That word best describes New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly. In an increasingly juvenile nation, Kelly’s granite temperament can be a tad daunting. But if you knew what Kelly knows, you might not smile much, either.
“The threat of terrorism is as great, if not greater, today than it was before the World Trade Center was destroyed,” Kelly recently said. “Do not think for a second that al-Qaeda and those who share its ideology have forgotten about New York,” he continued. “Images of the World Trade Center and scenes of the City are regularly displayed on jihadist websites and al-Qaeda publications. Its propagandists call on followers in the United States to take up the battle at home and use bombs, guns, and poison to indiscriminately kill.”
In a breakfast speech at the New York Hilton that made last Monday tougher than most, Kelly told the Association for a Better New York and the Council on Foreign Relations that America’s financial and media capital remains militant Islam’s target of choice.
“In the mind of al-Qaeda and its acolytes, New York is the symbol of all they hate about America and the West,” Kelly added. “In just the past ten months there have been several plots with a nexus to New York City.”
• Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 23, arrived from Bangladesh on a student visa. He conspired to blast Manhattan’s Federal Reserve Bank last October. On August 9, he received a 30-year prison sentence.
• Raess Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, two Pakistani-born brothers, were nabbed in Florida last November 29 after plotting to detonate theaters and restaurants in Times Square.
• NYPD undercover efforts prompted the arrest of Justin Kaliebe, 18, as he boarded a jet for Yemen, allegedly to join Ansar al-Sharia, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Kelly observed, “There’s little doubt that his handlers would have sent him back here to their number-one target, New York City.”
• An unnamed, Iranian-trained al-Qaeda agent met a conspirator here. Among other objectives, they planned to attack a train between New York and Canada. So much for the myth that Sunni al-Qaeda and Shiite Iran will not cooperate to kill Americans.
• Just days after allegedly bombing the Boston Marathon last April, killing three people and wounding 264, the Tsarnaev brothers drove towards Manhattan with pipe bombs and explosive pressure cookers. Had their hostage not escaped, Kelly explained, “They would have arrived in Midtown in time to launch a devastating attack at the morning rush hour.”
“Again,” Kelly emphasized, “these all are events in the last ten months.”
Kelly has led the NYPD into becoming what Heritage Foundation national-security scholar Cully Stimson calls “the best city police department in terms of counterterrorism in the USA.”
After 9/11, Kelly boosted his personnel on the FBI’s Joint Counterterrorism Task Force from 17 to 120. The NYPD has become a mini-CIA. Senior officers are stationed in eleven cities overseas and cooperate with local cops. These New Yorkers “visit the scenes of terrorist attacks and gather real-time information that guides the NYPD’s operations at home,” Kelly noted.
The NYPD benefits from the diverse ethno-linguistic ingredients that simmer within the quintessential melting pot that is America’s premier metropolis.
“We have hundreds of speakers of Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, Russian, Mandarin, and other important languages,” Kelly remarked. “Police departments from across the country have come to study our programs. After the bombings at the Boston Marathon, we hosted a group of 20 law-enforcement officials from Boston for a week, who came here to learn what they could do to better protect their city.”