MSNBC News Services

Updated: 1 hour, 41 minutes ago

NEW YORK – New York city police increased security throughout Manhattan Friday and at bridges and tunnels in response to what they called an “unverified radiological threat.”

But they said the city’s alert status for an attack was unchanged at “orange.”

The New York Police Department said in a statement it had increased the deployment of radiological sensors on vehicles, boats and helicopters and had set up vehicle checkpoints in lower Manhattan and at bridges and tunnels.


Police confirmed the increased security was in response to receiving information that a dirty bomb may go off around 34th street in Manhattan Friday evening.

The Empire State Building, New York City’s tallest building, Madison Square Garden and Macy’s department store are in the 34th Street neighborhood.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the police had received the threat from the Internet but stressed there was no reason to believe this threat was any different from countless others since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne called the measures “strictly precautionary.” He said an Israeli Web site reported that online posts were made following a video released Sunday featuring an American member of al-Qaida threatening foreign diplomats and embassies across the Islamic world.

DHS says threat ‘unsubstantiated’
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security in Washington said they assessed the radiological threat to New York as “unsubstantiated” and there was “no credible information telling us there is an imminent threat to the homeland at this time.”

New York has remained on an orange alert — the second highest such level, below red — since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.

New York police played down the increased security.

“It is stressed that these deployments are strictly precautionary and not the result of any verified threat,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in a statement.

And Bloomberg also sought to soothe New Yorkers.

‘Precautionary measures’
“Earlier this evening, the NYPD began taking several public precautionary measures visible to New Yorkers to guard against an unverified threat that was found on the Internet,” he said.

“These actions are like those that the NYPD takes every day — precautions against potential but unconfirmed threats that may never materialize,” Bloomberg said.

“As New Yorkers, we’ve gone about our lives even with the daily threat level at ‘orange’ every day since September 11, 2001. That threat level has not changed because of this unverified threat, and we shouldn’t let anyone terrorize us by spreading fear.”

At Herald Square, the heart of the 34th Street area, late Friday evening, there was no visible sign of increased police security as New Yorkers went about their regular activities

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