Officials strongly downplay Iraqi claim of plot to attack subways

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi signs the guestbook during the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
(John Minchillo / AP)

U.S. and New York officials strongly downplayed a claim Thursday by the Iraqi prime minister that his country uncovered a plot to attack subways in New York and Paris.

The new prime minster, Haider Abadi, told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly that militants who traveled to Iraq and Syria from other countries to join the Islamic State militant group were behind the plot. Such fighters have been a chief concern of the U.S. government because some are from Western countries and have passports that would allow them to return home relatively easily to carry out attacks.

But officials in the U.S. have not been put on high alert about any attack being plotted.

“There is no specific, credible information about any specific threat to the New York City subway system,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He rode the subway himself Thursday afternoon as a show of confidence in the system’s safety.


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said city officials would always be mindful of new information it gets about threats and would act accordingly. But two intelligence officials said that Abadi’s claim hasn’t prompted the warnings and alerts inside the U.S. government that normally would accompany such information.

“No one in the U.S. government is aware of such a plot and it was not raised with us in our meetings with Iraqi officials here in New York,” added a senior Obama administration official who did not want to be quoted discussing intelligence matters.

President Obama met with Abadi on Wednesday at the U.N. to discuss the ongoing U.S.-led attacks on Islamic State militants that expanded from Iraq into Syria this week. Abadi urged Obama and allies to speed up the delivery of promised weapons to rebuild his battered forces.

Staff writer Kathleen Hennessey in New York contributed to this report. For more coverage of national security, follow @bybrianbennett