November 10, 2005

NY safeguards hotels after Jordan attack

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York quickly deployed police
special forces to protect hotels and hunted for evidence at
hotel bombings in Amman in case the suicide attacks in Jordan's
capital presaged future strikes here.

The response Wednesday and Thursday came under New York's
evolving security strategy that began when it suffered the
deadliest al Qaeda attack to date -- the suicide hijackings of
September 11, 2001.

"When there is a terrorist event, we always ramp up
security and we have done that at the New York City hotels,"
Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on Thursday.

An al Qaeda group claimed responsibility on Thursday for
the blasts that killed 56 people at three luxury hotels in
Amman on Wednesday. The group also has been carrying out the
deadliest attacks in the Iraqi insurgency.

The New York Police Department posted a liaison to Amman
just 10 days ago, and within minutes of the hotel blasts he was
at one scene getting briefed and filing reports to New York,
Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.

Similar New York envoys operate in seven other countries.

"We're looking for information that may affect how we
patrol the city. How was it executed? What materials were used?
Where were the bombs assembled? Obviously if there is any
information about New York, that's a priority," Browne said.

The attacks also triggered new orders for three special
units -- one of heavily armed forces, one of uniformed police,
and one of detectives -- that are designed to prevent attacks
like those in Jordan.

"There is no information to suggest any New York hotels are
targeted," Browne said.

Squad cars swarmed around the Ritz-Carlton in New York's
financial district while the "Hercules" squad of black-helmeted
and heavily armed agents guarded the Hyatt and the
Intercontinental in Midtown Manhattan.

"The extra security makes people feel safe and if there is
a problem it does help," said Jacqueline Volkart, general
manager for the Ritz-Carlton.

Belgian tourist Mark Coenegracht, 47, wasn't impressed.

"It's the American way to react a little too much," he
said, outside the Hyatt. "It could give people a feeling of
security but it might also create insecurity."

(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta)