Security on the commuter rail system and stations in and around New York was beefed up on Thursday as FBI warned of a “plausible but unsubstantiated threat” of an Al Qaeda attack, hours after a major terrorist strike in Mumbai.
Officials said the warning was given in an “abundance caution,” but ABC News said quoting law enforcement officials that it could be a “Madrid-like attack,” a reference to the 2004 coordinated attacks on the Spain rail system which killed 191 people.
Police were increasing their presence and visibility at train stations in response to the warning which came just as Christmas holiday season began.
The season sees large number of people travel to be with their families and shopping malls are crowded with people buying gifts for their loved ones.
A Homeland Security official said the information was “plausible but uncorroborated” and that Al Qaeda might have discussed undertaking such attacks in late September.
A terror suspect arrested in Pakistan by the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently provided authorities with details of a bomb plot against the Long Island Rail Road and other information, ABC News said.
This led to a series of high level intelligence and law enforcement conference calls over the past 24 hours and the issuing of a bulletin warning of an unspecified holiday attack on the New York City region’s commuter rail system.
The suspect, ABC News said, had recently met Al Qaeda leaders and was able to provide significant detail as to how the plotters would have carried out an attack if their plans went beyond the “aspirational stage”.