MIDTOWN, Manhattan (PIX11): The New York metro area is the number one terror target in the country, and the threats are increasing -- that was the message Monday afternoon from the governors of New York and New Jersey as well as mayor Bill de Blasio.
These leaders joined the Federal Secretary of Homeland Security to plan ways to ensure that information about terror threats is shared among law enforcement.
"The terrorist network itself is larger and more complex and sophisticated than it's ever been," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a news conference after the four men met with the law enforcement heads of their respective jurisdictions.
"It's no longer [just] Al Qaeda," said Gov. Cuomo. "It's ISIL, it's Al Shabab ..." and other terror groups who are interested in carrying out attacks on innocent New York and New Jersey residents, he said.
The meeting was held at One Penn Plaza, an office tower across the street from Penn Station. The location was no accident; the leaders chose a site right next to the country's busiest rail transportation hub to drive home the point of how important it is to keep the public (600,000 use Penn Station daily) safe.
What also seemed intentional was the timing of the four leaders' news conference. The Department of Homeland Security had made very clear beforehand to the dozens of news outlets in attendance that the presentation would take place at 3:00 Monday afternoon. It ended up starting 38 minutes early -- very unusual for any of the three elected officials participating.
However, for the director in charge of the country's security, keeping people who may want to do harm guessing is part of the job.
The upshot of the meeting was that joint preventive action will be key in protecting the New York metro area from terror attacks.
"We need to keep our eye on a range of threats," said Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. These threats "include the potential for domestic based attacks of the type we saw at the Boston Marathon last year."
Anything from an attack on that scale to a crime of the magnitude of 9/11 could happen again here, the four leaders pointed out, without skilled law enforcement collaboration.
"It means that [Governor Cuomo] and I have tasked the heads of our state police and our homeland security directors," said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, "to come up with how we can work further to protect our infrastructure and our people."
Ten days from now, Governors Christie and Cuomo will hold another meeting, in which they'll review the reports that the state and city law enforcement directors were assigned to generate. In 30 days, the governors and Mayor de Blasio and Secretary Johnson will receive a further, and presumably more detailed, report from law enforcement directors on ways in which their organizations can work together more closely to prevent terrorist activity in the New York region.
Secretary Johnson is from our area. His hometown is Montclair, New Jersey. Nobody from Connecticut state government had been invited to Monday's meeting.AlertMe