Local experts weigh-in on terror threat ahead of Election Day

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The FBI and New York Police Department are assessing the credibility of a possible al Qaeda terror attack against the U.S. on the eve of Election Day.

Officials said Friday that counter terrorism investigators are reviewing the information that mentioned New York, Texas, and Virginia as potential targets.

“Al Qaeda will do anything they can. I’m surprised we didn’t hear something more verbal from ISIS just to do what they can to discredit what this country goes through,” said former FBI Special Agent in Charge, Peter Ahearn.

Ahearn told News 4 terror threats generally surface during major national events; national elections are no different.

With an expected 70 percent voter turnout Tuesday in Erie County, which is similar to that of 2012, he expects al Qaeda is just trying to incite fear.

“What they really want to do is disrupt the democracy in this country. That’s what’s driving them crazy, that’s what really offends them is our functioning democracy. Whenever they can disrupt democracy, that’s their ultimate goal,” said Governor Cuomo in an interview Friday.

Steven MacMartin runs Medaille College’s Homeland Security Program. He told us al Qaeda is likely throwing mud against a wall to see what sticks.

“It’s kind of almost an existential thing. We want you to be thinking about it and keep us in your mind and we’re out there. Because there really is little they can do other than hope a lone wolf might take this as a trigger and commit an attack,” MacMartin said.

MacMartin feels polling place safety will really fall into the hands of local law enforcement.

Local agencies as well as the FBI met with Erie County Board of Elections officials Thursday.

Democratic Elections Commissioner for Erie County, Len Lenihan expects both Election Eve and Election Day to run smoothly.

“We are prepared for any disruptions to take place at the polling places. We don’t expect many, but we’re prepared if there are,” Lenihan said.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda told News 4 his officers are prepared to take action if needed, but that the Buffalo area is not the target of any credible threat at this time.

“I spoke with the FBI today at length. There are now credible threats to this area. However our officers will be on alert and will monitor the situation as it becomes closer,” he said.

The Buffalo Field Office of the FBI released the following state Friday:

“The counterterrorism and homeland security communities remain vigilant and well-postured to defend against attacks here in the United States.  The FBI and DHS, working with our federal, state and local counterparts, share and assess intelligence on a daily basis and will continue to work closely with law enforcement and intelligence community partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety.”

 

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