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’26/11 Mumbai attacks help New York police to be better prepared’

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. File photo: AP.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. File photo: AP.  

The New York Police Department (NYPD), learning lessons from the 26/11 Mumbai attack, has taken necessary steps to prevent any such type of terror attempt, a top US cop said today.

“As part of our comprehensive response to what happened in Mumbai, we’ve held tactical drills and tabletop exercises with officers from our Special Operations Division based on that scenario,” New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in his testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Mr. Kelly had testified before the same committee last year about the NYPD’s response to Mumbai—like terror assault in 2008, which claimed 183 lives.

“As you may recall, that attack was carried out by small teams of operatives using AK—56 assault rifles. By sustaining the operation for hours, they maximised the casualties,” he said.

NYPD has trained “more than 250 additional officers” in the use of heavy weapons to “supplement” the work of emergency service officers in a crisis.

“We’ve also decided to use the instructors in our Firearms and Tactics Unit as another reserve force,” he said, adding that all of its police recruits would now receive basic instruction in three types of heavy weapons.

“We’ve taken these and other measures because we believe an attack involving active shooters is always a possibility.

Likewise, we must also guard against terrorists armed with homemade bombs, whether a car bomb like the one we saw in Times Square or stashed inside backpacks for a suicide mission like the one planned for last September in New York subways,” Mr. Kelly said.

The officer noted that the department’s subway bag search programme is designed to counter terror threats like the 2005 London bombings.

Mr. Kelly rued that their undercover operations showed the “ease” with which terrorists can purchase explosive ingredients such as chlorine and ammonium nitrate in the US.

“These efforts are part of a robust counter—terrorism programme we built from the ground up in 2002, when we realised that in addition to our focus on crime fighting, the police department needed to build the intelligence collection analysis and infrastructure protection capabilities to defend New York City from another terrorist attack,” Mr. Kelly said.

The NYPD had also established the nation’s first municipal counter—terrorism bureau and structured a intelligence division.

“We recruited the best that the federal government had to offer to head those two operations,” he said.

Similarly, the department had created a new civilian intelligence programme to support field commanders, who have tapped the “incredible” logistic diversity of the police department, with timely information and analysis.

“We assigned native speakers of languages such as Urdu, Arabic and Pashtu to counter—terrorism duties. We strengthened our patrol of key infrastructure in the city, including bridges, tunnels and a host of landmarks and other sensitive locations,” Mr. Kelly said while listing out the measures taken after the Mumbai terrorist attack.

A team of officials were sent to Mumbai to have first hand information of the terrorist operations there in November—December 2008.

“We forged collaborative relationships with the private sector with law enforcement organisations up and down the East Coast and with federal agencies, especially the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security,” Mr. Kelly added.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 9:57:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rsquo2611-Mumbai-attacks-help-New-York-police-to-be-better-preparedrsquo/article16298672.ece

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