October 7, 2005

New Yorkers return to subway after warning

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers cautiously returned to
their famed subway on Friday after authorities warned that the
mass transit system had come under its most specific terrorist
threat ever.

Uniformed police stepped up searches of bags and increased
their presence at subway stations following Mayor Michael
Bloomberg's plea to commuters to leave their luggage,
briefcases and baby strollers at home.

"It's a little quieter than normal. That makes me a little
nervous," said Lisa Marie Dipaola, 24, who was waiting for a
train on the platform beneath Times Square on her way to her
job in investment banking.

The century-old transit system is both vital and emblematic
for New York, moving 4.5 million riders a day in the country's
largest city.

"I have no choice. I have to use the subway," said teacher
Milagros Madera, 42, who brought her 5- and 6-year-old sons
onto the train despite the threat.

"They love riding the subway," she said.

FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon said on Thursday that
classified operations had partially thwarted the threat, though
he refused to address reports it came from the Iraqi

Authorities did say it had come from abroad and
specifically referred to an attack on the subway in the coming

But federal officials in Washington disagreed on how
serious it was.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said on
Thursday: "At this time the intelligence community believes
that this information, while specific, is of doubtful

The information was shared with local officials "out of an
abundance of caution" but there was no plan to raise the threat
level for New York or the country, Knocke said.

New York has been on high alert since the September 11,
2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and bolstered security
after the July 7 attack on London's transit system that killed
56 people. Those bombers carried explosives in backpacks.

New York Gov. George Pataki ordered hundreds of National
Guard and police to step up security on mass transit systems
and gave authority to Connecticut and New Jersey police to
operate on commuter trains in and out of New York.