“Our insignificance is often the cause of our safety.” –Aesop
I live in a major American city where security has been intensified following the recent assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, which has been reported as a “major escalation” to tensions between the United States and Iran.
Upon hearing about the alert from the Department of Homeland Security over the weekend, I felt the need to limit my presence at New York City’s popular destinations such as the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, Central Park, Herald Square, Union Station, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden.
It’s not a matter of being alarmist but, by avoiding such attractions, safety can be assured—better to be safe than sorry.
I must learn to adopt a “safety first” attitude and, as much as possible, avoid crowded areas; although, my only “worry” is the daily subway rides between Queens to Brooklyn. On my way home last Sunday, I already noticed the New York Police Department’s elite, armed with long firearms, guarding the major destinations and tourist attractions.
In addition, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to protect key locations from “any attempt by Iran or its terrorist allies to retaliate against the US.”
“We have to assume this action puts us in a de facto state of war,” he asserted.
The mayor continued: “No one has to be reminded that New York City is the number one terror target in the United States. We have to recognize that this creates a whole series of dangerous possibilities for our city. We have plenty of knowledge of previous efforts by Iranian proxies to scout and target locations in New York City. Hezbollah and others have made it a point in recent years… We know there’s been an effort to target and prepare to attack in New York City in the past.”
Like many New Yorkers, I am aware Iran is not a joke and the way Soleimani’s remains were greeted in Tehran was reminiscent of Benigno Aquino Jr.’s funeral. The slain general was not only well-loved but was considered a demi-god.
It is believed Iran’s retaliation could be in various forms, including a cyberattack or a possible strike. There are also fears sleeper cells, comprised of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, may be ready to attack in Washington DC, New York City, and Los Angeles.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should be feared the most and, after Iran vowed “harsh retaliation,” the US has been on heightened alert.
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Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ