Police Department ran an antiterrorism exercise simulating an attack on the city.
A team of terrorists unleashed a coordinated series of bombings and gun attacks around the city in the simulation. At one point, terrorists attacked New York police officials visiting wounded officers in a hospital. By the time the daylong attacks were over, dozens of people had been killed and many more wounded.
The NYPD simulation was different from any of the terrorist incidents that have actually hit New York, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks where terrorists hijacked planes to destroy the World Trade Center, or the foiled Times Square car-bombing attempt in May of this year.
Instead, the simulation deliberately mirrored the 2008 massacre in Mumbai. Within minutes of one another on the night of Nov. 26, 2008, 10 gunmen attacked various locations in the Indian capital, including two luxury hotels, a hospital and a railway station. The attack stretched on for three days as hostages were taken at several of the locations. Ultimately, 174 people were killed.
Until Mumbai, NYPD counterterrorism officials felt reasonably comfortable that they were prepared for any type of terrorist attack. But that comfort level was built on preparing for a single event, not a series of coordinated attacks that would terrorize a city for days on end.
“The Mumbai attack two years ago was a bit of a game changer,” Mitchell Silber, head of the NYPD’s intelligence analysis division, said. “It was a model that most counterterrorism practitioners hadn’t really considered. The armed gunmen roaming around the city taking hostages, that wasn’t something we had seen by any jihadist group. That was a real eye-opener.” Mr. Silber said the more NYPD officials learned about the Mumbai attacks “the more similarities we saw between Mumbai city and New York City.” Both, he said, are financial centers; both are surrounded by water on three sides; both get intense media attention.
The latest simulation made additional sense, he said, in light of the rumors this past fall that jihadists were planning another “Mumbai-style” attack somewhere in Europe.