The Al Qaeda published magazine Inspire included the U.S. Open, held in Flushing Meadows, Queens, every August, on a "wish list" of terrorist targets, the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department (NYPD) told the city's "private security community" at a briefing today.
The NYPD stressed there's no specific threat they know of against the U.S. Open but Bill Bratton, New York's once and again police commissioner, warned that New York is a top target. "Two thousand years ago, the expression was 'all roads lead to Rome,'" he said. "Well, in 2014, as it relates to this subject matter, terrorism, unfortunately all roads lead to New York City."
In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, the top three countries where terrorism occurred were Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which accounted for 55 percent of all terrorist attacks, followed by India and Nigeria. About 8,500 people died in terrorist attacks in those five countries in 2012.
By contrast, fewer than 3,500 people died in terrorism attacks in the United States between 1970 and 2010, nearly 3,000 of them on the 9/11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Those attacks were unprecedented in U.S. history and as Ronald Bailey estimated in a 2011 column, even taking into account every plausible attack allegedly prevented by counterterrorism efforts, Americans had only a 1 in 1.7 million chance of dying in a terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, New York is the most populous city in the Western world and as former mayor Michael Bloomberg boasted has the seventh largest army in the world. The idea that all terrorist roads lead to New York City is not a necessary one for adequate counterterrorism measures. It does, however, fuel the desire to maintain such a large militarized force in America's largest city and even to operate it as an intelligence agency that targets Muslims for surveillance, just like the federal ones do.