Mayor: NYPD To Take Immediate Steps To Protect Key Locations From Iranian Retaliation

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The NYPD is increasing security around the city after the killing of Iran’s top military leader.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday night on Twitter that the NYPD will take immediate steps to protect key locations from any possible retaliation attempts by Iran, adding "We will have to be vigilant against this threat for a long time to come."

Following a deadly U.S. airstrike in Iran that killed Tehran's top general, de Blasio posted that there had been a discussion regarding safety in New York City with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Counterterrorism Chief John Miller.

During a news conference Friday, de Blasio noted there have been previous efforts by Iranian proxy to scout and target locations in New York City and the city is not taking any chances in wake of Thursday's airstrike.

"We're aware that New York is a top terrorist target. We're aware that people have looked and probed for targets here before," Miller said.

Former NYPD Intelligence Analyst Mitch Silber says it’s important to remain vigilant because of this.

“They often are gathering intelligence and then putting that away, putting it on the shelf so that they can pull down when they want to retaliate in plan and place of their choosing,” he tells WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

He says it's critical the NYPD have officers posted around the world, including in the Middle East.

“Having personnel on the ground out there imbedded in foreign police forces that maybe might get a clue or a heads up that could decisive,” he notes.

Commissioner Shea, however, has stressed there are no specific credible threats to the city, but said the public will notice enhanced security.

"What you will see going forward in New York City in the wake of the news overnight is that heightened vigilance in terms of uniformed officers many with long guns," Shea said.

The three city officials urged people to go about their normal daily lives, but invoked the often repeated phrase, "If you see something, say something."

Seven people, including powerful Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani, were killed after the U.S. launched rockets at Baghdad’s airport on Thursday prompting de Blasio to tweet that he was "worried for our city + nation."

Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the airstrike.

A tweet from the White House confirmed that "the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization", at the direction of President Trump.

The Trump administration says American lives in the Middle East were at risk, prompting the drone strike. 

The killing marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran.

The U.S. urged American citizens to leave Iraq “immediately" and closed the embassy in Baghdad. 

Several Democrats in Congress have been expressing concerns that the costs may outweigh the benefits of this killing.

Saying the stakes of war are huge, Connecticut's Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, tweets that two questions need to be asked: "Is it right and good?" and "Is it in our best interest?"

"This is a moment to reflect on how to think about and communicate with our elected leaders. If they are playing to emotion, speaking with uninformed certainty and cheerleading, they are not up to this moment in history," Himes wrote.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said the president has no strategic plan when it comes to Iran, and that the region is now less stable and less safe.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal says the Trump White House owns a full explanation, saying present authorizations for use of military force in no way cover starting a possible new war.

Republican Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin tweets the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth with the greatest military ever. He calls the killing very necessary, justice served.

"He absolutely was planning out future attacks against U.S. diplomats and U.S. servicemembers," Zeldin told WCBS 880. 

Meanwhile, North Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer tells WCBS 880’s Kevin Rincon that he needs to know more about what the Trump administration knew prior to the strike.

“I don't believe (Soleimani) was in Iraq by the airport buying goods. I don't think he was shopping at the airport. There was a reason why he was in Iraq,” Gottheimer said.

He says he'd like to know what that reason was and he also wants to know what the trump administration plans to do moving forward.

"I would like to see and I expect us to be briefed on their strategy.  Because I think what's essential is understanding the long term strategy and understanding what intelligence they used to base their actions on.  I think that's essential part of that and I expect that congress will receive that."

Congressman Gottehimer says what needs to be the focus now is keeping both American soldiers and civilians safe as they prepare for any sort of retaliations from Iran.

Long Island Congressman Peter King also weighed in, saying it's vital to unite behind President Trump. He tells WCBS 880's Steve Burns that taking out Soleimani was inevitable.

"I'd rather have him sooner than later, this was a surgical strike, it was an effective strike," King said, adding that the U.S. must now be ready for possible retaliatory action by Iran. "We have to be on the lookout for any type of counterattack, terrorist attack by Iran."

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is also concerned about that.

"They could use their proxy forces in Iraq where we have 5,000 troops, we have to be ready for all of the asymetrical actions that Iran can take throughout the region and for that fact throughout the world," Menendez said.

Himes said Iran plays a good game of chess so their response may not be seen immediately.

"The Iranians will respond the question is how and when," Himes told Burns.

The United States is bolstering its presence in the Mideast, sending nearly 3,000 from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.