Iraqi intelligence has uncovered an ISIS plot to attack U.S. and Paris subways, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday while meeting at the United Nations General Assembly. The prime minister said U.S. and French authorities have been alerted of the terrorist plots. However, he is still awaiting on more intelligence from Iraqi government officials in Baghdad.
The Associated Press initially reported the Al-Abadi said the attack will be on New York City. This apparently was a mistranslation of the prime minister, who mentioned the U.S. but did not name a specific city. Al-Abadi was also quoted as saying the threats were "imminent." According to The AP, the prime minister actually said he "wasn't sure" if the attacks were imminent or not.
The prime minister added that discovery of these alleged plots came from recent arrests:
Today, while I’m here, I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad, where there was an arrest of a few elements, and there are networks planning from inside Iraq [to attack] in the metros of Paris and the U.S. They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq.
Although Al-Abadi said the intelligence was credible and U.S. authorities were alerted, the FBI, New York Police Department, Port Authority and Metropolitan Transportation Authority said no foreign agencies have contacted them about a possible attack, NBC 4 New York reports. "The first we heard of this threat is when the press began reporting it," said a senior security official. CBS News added that Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby declined to comment on the alleged ISIS plot during a briefing on Thursday. Meanwhile, the White House National Security Council said it could not confirm the intelligence, but it takes all terrorist threats and reports into account.
The NYPD released a statement on Thursday, acknowledging the news reports. The authorities said they are working with the FBI:
We are aware of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s statements and we are in close contact with the FBI and other federal partners as we assess this particular threat stream. New York City normally operates at a heightened level of security and we adjust that posture daily based on our evaluation of information as we receive it.
The news of a potential terrorist attack on U.S. soil comes a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo increased transportation security in the high-traffic area. The governors signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, ordering increased police presence on mass transit, including the commuter rail lines, subways, buses and bus stations.
Both governors said at a news conference on Wednesday that the heightened security wasn't due to a specific threat on the tri-state area.
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