On 9/11 Anniversary, Terror Threat More Complex Than Ever

NEW YORK (AP) -
The Tribute in Light on Monday rises from behind the reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial. Thursday marks the 13th anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The Tribute in Light on Monday rises from behind the reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial. Thursday marks the 13th anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A police officer stands guard at the 9/11 Memorial during last year’s ceremonies marking the anniversary of the terror attacks. (AP Photo/Allan Tannenbaum)
A police officer stands guard at the 9/11 Memorial during last year’s ceremonies marking the anniversary of the terror attacks. (AP Photo/Allan Tannenbaum)

Air strikes in Iraq, ongoing unrest in Syria and the beheadings of two American journalists are casting a long shadow over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While there is no specific threat against New York ahead of the Thursday commemoration, the rising power of disparate terror groups around the world presents the most complex terrorism danger since the Twin Towers were destroyed, New York intelligence officials said.

“It is layer upon layer upon layer — not all coming from the same place or ideology,” said John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

That differs from five years ago, when the risk was chiefly from al-Qaida, Miller said. Now, he said, the threat is also coming from the well-funded, highly sophisticated “mass marketing of terrorism” — affiliate groups, foreign fighters, and the idea of “al-Qaida-ism.”

New York remains the top target, and that makes preparing for big events that much more critical, officials said. 

Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department is prepared. “We will, as always, ramp up intelligence gathering and visibility,” Bratton said. That means thousands of officers in specialized teams, bomb-sniffing dogs, undercover officers and teams of police using radioactive detection devices and other high-tech tools.

For the first time, the Memorial Plaza will be open to the public this year from 6 p.m. to midnight.