Come Thanksgiving more than 3,000 NYPD officers will be on duty, 83 heavy-duty sand trucks will be an additional line of security, and the list of street closures is a lengthy one.
The strain on New York City this year is unprecedented, largely in part due to the added complication of having to provide extensive security to President-Elect Donald Trump. The NYPD confirms all parade participants are vetted, as are the individuals working the event.
New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio says, is working around the clock to make sure the boroughs are protected, particularly after a Brooklyn man was arrested for allegedly plotting to carry out an ISIS-style terror attack in Manhattan.
“Part of why we have such an extraordinary anti-terror capacity is to prevent attacks around major events around the world,” de Blasio said.
Mohamed Rafik Naji, 37, was arrested at his Brooklyn home Monday on suspicion of expressing support to ISIS through social media since 2014, but also for planning an attack in Times Square eerily similar to the terrorist attack in Nice, France.
A 19-page criminal complaint points at Naji communicating with a federal informant discussing a garbage truck driving through one of the city’s busiest areas. A year-long investigation by the FBI and NYPD found Naji, a legal permanent U.S. resident who emigrated from Yemen, traveled to allegedly train with ISIS.
Naji departed New York in March 2015 to Istanbul, Turkey. Months later, in August, Naji made it to Yemen but had at least five failed attempts to reach ISIS controlled territories within the country. However, according to the federal complaint, eventually managed to train and send back selfies of himself dressed as an ISIS fighter. In September 2015, Naji returned to New York by traveling through Djibouti and Qatar, prosecutors said.
de Blasio said on Tuesday Naji’s arrest was a coordinated effort between local and federal officials but the arrest and investigation have played little role in this week’s security planning.
Naji’s defense attorney, Susan Kellman, said her client is an Uber driver who has three young children in Yemen, which is why she believes he traveled to the country. However a spokesperson for Uber says Naji was not employed by the company.
She added Naji has yet to submit a plea because as of Tuesday he has not been formally charged.