Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are preparing to celebrate Passover, which begins Friday, but for the NYPD, it is a time not of celebration but of amped-up vigilance.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly briefed rabbis, community leaders and police officers this morning at One Police Plaza, promising to boost the number of police officers around synagogues ahead of the Jewish holiday.
Cops have not received any specific threats about the Passover holiday, he said.
But he did describe a threat revealed last night – an online graphic of the city skyline with the words “Al Qaeda coming soon again in New York.”
“The internet is the new Afghanistan,” Kelly said. “That’s where training happens, that’s where radicalization happens. It has been a very valuable tool for terrorists.”
The message was posted on an Arabic-language al Qaeda “artwork and design” forum and brought to Kelly’s attention yesterday, he said.
The message’s creator might have been Egyptian, cops said, and used software that costs about $1,600, indicating he might have financial backing, top spokesman Paul Browne told Metro.
“The language is certainly threatening,” Browne told reporters at this morning’s briefing.
“We’re still very much concerned about the origination of this message,” Kelly added. “It reminds us that New York is still very much on their minds.”
Kelly also mentioned recent anti-Semitic terror attacks, like the March 19 attack in Toulouse, France, where an armed man attacked a school, killing a rabbi and three children. Kelly said an NYPD officer traveled from Paris to investigate.
After the Toulouse shootings, more cops were added to houses of worship and Jewish sites in the city.
In New York, he said, “Such attacks are certainly not outside the realm of possibility.”
Jewish leaders asked Kelly about the recent swastikas in Williamsburg and a person spotted filming outside one of their synagogues.