New York City Prepares For Massive Marathon In Wake Of Terror Attack

Nov 3, 2017
Originally published on November 3, 2017 11:58 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sunday is an unofficial holiday in New York City. It's marathon day. Tens of thousands of runners from around the world are descending upon the city this weekend to run through the five boroughs with throngs of New Yorkers cheering them on. It is always a security challenge, the marathon. But this weekend, just days after the terrorist attack that left eight people dead, there's obviously even more concern. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is in New York and has been covering all this.

Hansi, are there going to be more security measures put in place? I would imagine so. What's that going to look like?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Organizers say there will be visible and behind-the-scenes security measures. New York police, they're going to deploy the highest number of dump trucks, they say, filled with sand for any event in the city. And these vehicles are supposed to block other vehicles from entering the course. Police are also going to increase the number of snipers on rooftops and plus have lots of undercover police officers in the crowds. And again, it's really a challenging event for security because it's - it lasts almost 12 hours, this race.

The course goes through all five boroughs, you know, running through streets, crossing bridges, you're ending in Central Park. And more than 51,000 runners plus more than 2 million spectators expected in the streets, it's going to be a tough challenge.

MARTIN: Right. So I imagine you've been talking with folks who are getting ready to either just go cheer for people or to actually run in the marathon?

WANG: Yeah, we spoke with some runners who were picking up gear before the race. And Tuesday's attack in lower Manhattan was certainly on their minds. And some of them said they were worried right after the attack if the race would be canceled. We spoke with Jude Barnard (ph) from Brooklyn. And he's been training for this marathon for the last four or five months. Here's what he said.

JUDE BARNARD: Typically what I'm concerned about when I run a marathon is I hope I don't have to go to the bathroom, I hope I don't get cramps. This was the first year I said to myself, I hope there's not a terrorist attack or something crazy happens. But you can't hide under a rock and hope that nothing happens.

MARTIN: Right. Life goes on. So there is somewhat of a development in the investigation. ISIS, Hansi, now claiming credit for this attack, although there's no evidence that this man, the suspect, was acting at the behest or the direction of ISIS at this point, right?

WANG: That's right.

MARTIN: Are investigators learning more about how this man came to be radicalized?

WANG: Well, according to the criminal complaint against the suspect, he allegedly looked at propaganda videos put out by ISIS, videos that show beheadings and other violent acts and that he allegedly followed directions that ISIS has put online specifically about how to carry out an attack with a vehicle, including things like leaving a note about ISIS after the attack. But law enforcement say so far, their investigation shows that he appears to be a lone wolf inspired by ISIS, not directed so far.

But the investigation is still ongoing. So law enforcement are looking at, you know, could there be some other communication they may find that shows that he did contact - had contact with an ISIS recruiter or any other direct connection to the Islamic State. So they're looking at his web history. They're speaking with friends and family...

MARTIN: But, of course, we don't know if that radicalization started in Uzbekistan, where he's from, or it could have just started in the U.S. when he was already here.

WANG: That's right. These are open questions right now.

MARTIN: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang, thanks so much.

WANG: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.