New York City police say they have arrested two men on Friday (August 27) on suspicion of planning to bomb a New York City subway station. But officials say they do not believe the alleged plot is linked to international terrorist groups or to the Republican National Convention, which starts this week in New York.
Authorities say that on August 21, the suspects visited the 34th Street subway station near Madison Square Garden and discussed planting a bomb there. The station is a few blocks from the site of the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.
With help from a police informant, officials say, they learned that the men discussed targeting at least two other subway stations. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the two men have been under police surveillance for about a year, but that authorities decided to act quickly, even though the suspects did not have explosives in their possession. "They obviously were talking about conducting a violent act, and amateur or professional, obviously have the potential for carrying out a very serious act. They didn't have the explosives in their possession. We have no way of totally controlling that, if we just let them go for an extended period of time. So, it was prudent at this time to make the arrest, in our judgment," he said.
The men, a 21-year-old Pakistani man and a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, are being arraigned Saturday in federal court on charges of conspiracy to blow up a transportation facility.
Police are taking extraordinary security measures across the city, both to thwart potential terror attacks and maintain the peace amid dozens of anti-Bush and anti-war protests. On Friday night, more than 250 people were arrested after thousands of environmental advocates on bikes rode into the streets in midtown Manhattan, and blocked traffic for miles around.
Other anti-Bush protests carried on without incident on Saturday. Thousands of women's rights advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in what was billed as a "March for Women's Lives," organized by Planned Parenthood. Many protesters carried signs that read, "I Love Pro-Choice New York."
"I feel great. I think there is a lot of support here for policies that are pro-women, and it's a good statement against the war that is happening against women right now. And I think it's a good call for Bush to stop his ideology-driven policies," said one protester.
Two other groups of anti-war protesters that were denied permission to rally by a state judge earlier in the week were expected to gather in Central Park, in spite of the ban, but very few showed up.