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Tuesday, 29 March 2016 09:12

United States Reacts to Bombings in Brussels Featured

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"As our countries have always done, we must confront this threat together. We must defend democracy, and defeat terror," said House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday.  Accordingly the United States is urging international cooperation to address the attacks in Brussels.

Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who said months ago that this type of attack would likely occur given the open border policies in the EU, said that Brussels was no longer safe. He predicted the same fate for the U.S. if the country didn't address its immigrations issues and stop admitting Muslims that were not being properly vetted from countries where terrorism is a way of life.

"Do you remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was?" Trump posted on social media. "Not anymore, it is different world! The U.S. must be vigilant and smart!"

In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson said, "Now is the time for steady resolve as we continue to press against the scourge of terrorism. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims of today's horrific attacks and their families. The bombings in Brussels are a reminder that we must remain vigilant and 'if you see something, say something'."

Facts as of 3//23/2016:
• Over 35 people have been killed and over 230 injured in Brussels as twin attacks on the Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train were carried out on Tuesday by what has now been identified as terrorists.
• According to witnesses, gunshots were reportedly fired at the airport the terrorists were heard shouting in Arabic shortly before the blasts.
• At least 11 people were killed in the blast and 81 wounded according to the Belgian health minister.
• Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told reporters that approximately 20 passsengers were killed on board the metro train with more than 100 injured at the Maelbeek subway station. The terminal is close to European Union headquarters.
• Brussels has already been in a state of high security alert following the arrest of Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels last week. Further, a terror alert was issued in Europe and flights on U.S. airlines to and from Belgium have been diverted or cancelled.
• As a result of the bombings, police are increasing their presence in U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York.

U.S., Homeland security along with FBI officials are monitoring the unfolding of events in Brussels closely, Attorney General Lorretta Lynch is also aware of the attacks, according to senior law enforcement officials.

U.S. officials have briefed news agencies and have said there is "no specific threat to the United States that we know of."
On Good Morning America yesterday, U.S. officials were quoted as saying they are most concerned about "copy cat terrorists -- people who could be inspired by what they're seeing overseas."

"The FBI has been monitoring roughly 100 people, 24-hour surveillance, who they think could be inspired by what they've been seeing in Europe," the news report said.

A federal law enforcement source also ABC News that "U.S. residents can expect to see an increased law enforcement presence on transit and rail systems in major cities throughout the nation. "

At least three major US cities have taken proactive steps.

New York City
In New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there is no known credible threat to the state at this time and the federal threat level has not been elevated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Cuomo said he is beefing up security from the National Guard, state police, Port Authority and Metro Transit Authority at all major transit hubs, including JFK airport, LaGuardia airport, and Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.

"I have directed state law enforcement officials to step up security at high-profile locations around the state, including our airports, bridges, tunnels and mass transit systems," Cuomo said. "Public safety is paramount, and I want the people of this state to know that we are working with all local and federal partners, remaining vigilant and taking all necessary measures to keep New Yorkers safe."
"The New York City Police Department is closely monitoring the situation in Belgium and is in close contact with our international partners and with the FBI," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen P. Davis said in a statement.

"Until we learn more, the department has deployed additional counterterrorism resources across the city," Davis said. "Teams have been deployed to crowded areas and transit locations around the city out of an abundance of caution to provide police presence and public reassurance as we closely follow the developing situation overseas."

In a press conference this morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said "we will not live in fear."
"Our lives will continue today in honor of those lost to terrorism," de Blasio said. "Securing New York City is our show of solidarity with the people of Brussels and the victims of terrorism worldwide.”

Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told ABC News this morning that New York City is always on high alert.
"You’ve had the two major attacks here. You’ve had at least 20 terrorist attempts here in New York City," he said. "[The city] has the unique capacity to put out a lot of uniformed officers on the street, critical response command, an overlay of police officers."

He added: "New York has the biggest subway system, arguably in the world. Six million people travel that system every day, so you want to increase your uniform presence. Obviously lots of things that are going on that you won’t’ be able to see."

Los Angeles
The Los Angeles International airport has increased the presence of police officers.

"At this time there are no specific threats to LAX," a statement from the airport said. "We take attacks on aviation very seriously and make constant adjustments to our deployment strategies. As of now, there has been no impact to LAX operations; however, as a precaution, we have increased the visibility of Airport Police Officers at LAX. We will continue to monitor the situation in Belgium, and make adjustments to security as necessary."

Washington, D.C.
In the Washington, D.C., area, the Metro Transit Police also increased its presence this morning.

Staff Report

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