Originally created 10/07/01

New York City faces heightened security after U.S. military strike in Afghanistan



NEW YORK -- As U.S. and British military strikes began against Afghanistan, residents in the city that bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks faced heightened security at airports, points of entry and elsewhere.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Sunday that 4,500 National Guardsmen and additional police officers have been deployed throughout the city in areas "that might be possible targets in minds of terrorists."

While Giuliani did not identify the areas, in the past they have included local, state and federal office buildings and courthouses. The city also planned to increase security at airports, points of entry such as bridges and tunnels, and landmarks such as the Empire State Building.

But the mayor said that unless there are specific threats, no bridges, tunnels or public places would be closed. He urged New Yorkers to go about their business, and said Monday's Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan would go on as planned.

"We have to go about our normal way of life," he said after marching in a parade on Staten Island. Giuliani said he had been briefed about the impending retaliatory strikes Sunday morning, but followed through on his commitment to appear at the event.

Later Sunday, Giuliani again sought to reassure New Yorkers by taking a walk through Times Square and shaking hands with tourists.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks that leveled the World Trade Center towers, police and National Guard members have helped patrol barricades around the devastated site in lower Manhattan.

The mayor said heightened security would include checks of bags and requirements that workers show photo identification to get into buildings.

"What we have to ask of people right now ... is to have more patience when checkpoints have to be done, more checking of luggage or bags has to be done, or if we get a threat and we have to evacuate a building."

He asked New Yorkers to "just realize that we have to be ... a lot more careful now than maybe we have in the past, and almost accept it as part of our way of life."

City officials have said 4,979 people remain missing and 393 have been confirmed dead. Out of that figure, 335 victims have been identified.

The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide caution to Americans on Sunday, warning of the possibility of "strong anti-American sentiment and retaliatory actions against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world."

Armed National Guardsmen arrived, as previously scheduled, at John F. Kennedy International and La Guardia airports to help with security.

"They're checking the bags a little more closely," said Jason Franks, who was flying Sunday from Kennedy airport to Dallas. "But aside from that everything seems normal."

At Grand Central Terminal, security had been stepped up after the terrorist attacks and an adjoining street had been closed to traffic. On Sunday, passengers were reminded to watch their bags, and warned that unattended luggage would be searched.

At Pennsylvania Station, more plainclothes officers were on patrol and bomb-sniffing dogs had been deployed.

"I think retaliation's going to happen (in New York), but I don't fear it," said Ron Whillock, who was boarding an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C. "I look at it as a random act - much like I would look at an earthquake or a tornado - and I can't do anything to affect that."

Less than two miles from the trade center ruins, a coalition of groups opposed to U.S. military action in Afghanistan prayed and rallied before marching to Times Square.

"No war in our name!" chanted people in the crowd marching up Broadway." Police estimated that about 1,000 people participated in the march.

"The people who are going to be hurting are not the people who started this," said Stuart Rockefeller, one of the marchers.

Reaction to the military action was much different among some workers at the disaster site.

"It's big-time payback," said Charles Rios, 38, who works for a company involved in the trade center cleanup. "I'm so happy now."

Earlier Sunday, several hundred workers removed their construction helmets and paused for a half-hour prayer service amid the rubble.

"The work that all of you are doing here is God's work, it is holy work, and we appreciate it and love you for it," Fire Department Chaplain John Delendick said.