(by Joseph Straw, NYDailyNews.com) WASHINGTON – Police have caught “hostile” Iranian snoops shooting pictures and video at key city sites at least six times since 9/11 – twice the number previously reported.
NYPD intelligence boss Mitchell Silber [Director of Intelligence Analysis, NYPD Intelligence Division] disclosed the cases Wednesday to the House Homeland Security Committee, which is looking at the growing threat posed by…Iran and its proxies* in the U.S. – chief among them Hezbollah. [*A proxy is a person who acts or does business for another.]
“We believe this is neither an idle nor a new threat,” Silber told the panel, calling them incidents “we struggle to categorize as anything other than hostile reconnaissance of New York City.”
In May of 2005 six men on an East River sightseeing cruise raised the crew’s suspicion when they paired off with maps and cell phones, talking on them “in an unusual manner” while they shot video and photographed landmarks including the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
Tipped off, the NYPD determined all of the men were on the Iranian government payroll, one of them at the rogue nation’s mission to the United Nations.
During the UN General Assembly in September 2008, cops responded to reports of men photographing MTA railroad tracks inside Grand Central Terminal. The shooters, members of the Iranian delegation [to the UN], denied any suspicious intent, but one man’s camera also held photos of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Then in 2010, federal air marshals saw four men at the Wall Street heliport photographing and videotaping the facility’s waterline and structural supports. One of them held a camera at waist level.
The camera crew turned out to work for Iranian state television, in town for the UN General Assembly.
In each case, Silber said, the individuals were released and the NYPD shared the information with federal counterparts.
Committee Chairman Pete King (R-L.I.), who called the hearing, was unsurprised by the revelations. “That’s life in New York,” said King, a top supporter of the NYPD’s aggressive counterterrorism efforts.
In 2004 two Iranian [Embassy] guards were thrown out of the country after the third case of Iranian embassy security staff videotaping city infrastructure, including subway tracks and city landmarks.
Last year the feds broke up a game-changing plot in which Iran’s Quds Force* sought to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.
The brazen scheme called for the lunchtime bombing of a Washington restaurant favored by the diplomat, with no regard for civilian casualties.
Neither the State Department nor the Justice Department would say if any of the Iranians were expelled from the U.S. as a result of their suspicious activities.[*The Quds Force is a special unit of Iran’s Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (Revolutionary Guard). It has been described as “tasked with exporting” Iran’s Islamic revolution. The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.]
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from he New York Daily News.
1. a) Who is Mitchell Silber?
b) At what hearing did Mr. Silber testify last week?
2. a) Define reconnaissance.
b) List the incidents of hostile reconnaissance by Iranian government employees Mr. Silber described to the House committee.
3. How did the NYPD resolve each of these incidents?
4. Why were two Iranian embassy guards thrown out of the U.S. in 2004?
5. What plot did federal investigators break up in Washington D.C. last year?
6. a) Define counterterrorism.
b) How important do you think the NYPD’s counterterrorism efforts are to the safety of Americans? Explain your answer.
Hezbollah, whose name means “party of God,” is a terrorist group believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 that have killed more than 800 people. It was founded in 1982 in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley by a Shia clergyman educated in Iran. Hezbollah’s stated objectives include:
-the establishment of a Shiite theocracy in Lebanon
-the destruction of Israel
-the elimination of Western influences from the Middle East.
Hezbollah is an umbrella organization of various radical Islamic Shi’ite groups and organizations which receives substantial financial and philosophical support from Iran.
Visit the House Homeland Security Committee website for the entire text of Mr. Silber and other witnesses’ testimony:
For information on Hezbollah, go to cfr.org/publication/9155/