Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi disclosed on Thursday that his government has received intelligence that Islamic State fighters have been plotting to attack the New York and Paris subway systems.
Al-Abadi, who visited New York for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, said the information was passed to his office by captured militants in Iraq who were planning the attacks from there. U.S. and French officials said they had no knowledge of the alleged plots.
Here is what we know about the plots:
What did al-Abadi tell a group of journalists?
“They (Islamic State) plan to have attacks in the metros of Paris and the U.S. I asked for more credible information. I asked for names. I asked for details, for cities, you know, dates. And from the details I have received, yes, it looks credible.”
What did Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, say about al-Abadi’s claim?
“We have not confirmed such a plot and would have to review any information from our Iraqi partners before making further determinations. We take any threat seriously and always work to corroborate information we receive from our partners.”
What did Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to President Obama, say?
“What we have consistently said to the Iraqis is if they have information that is relevant to terrorist activity or terrorist plotting, that they can and should share that through our intelligence and law enforcement challenges.”
What was France’s reaction?
The French government said it was not aware of any specific threats to its metro system but that it had, nonetheless, increased security around public transportation and infrastructure following the beheading of a French tourist in Algeria this week
What did New York authorities say?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged reports of the threats, as did the New York City police department, but they, too, said they had no specific information about imminent attacks.
What else do we know about threats from the Islamic State?
Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s anti-terrorism chief, said Friday that there may be as many as 3,000 European militants fighting in Iraq and Syria. The fear is that some may have returned or plan to return to their home countries with sinister intentions.
Secretary of State John Kerry said there are more than 100 Americans fighting for the Islamic State. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., has said that up to 40 newly radicalized citizens who have returned to the U.S. are currently being trailed by the FBI.
FBI Director James Comey disputes those numbers. On Thursday, he said the number of Americans fighting for the Islamic State may only be about a dozen.
Comey also revealed that the FBI knows the identity of the masked Islamic State fighter seen in the videos of the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker. “I believe that we have identified him,” Comey told reporters.But he wouldn’t release the name.