A wide range of U.S. intelligence sources told NBC News that there is no evidence of any current threat against the subways, after Iraq’s prime minister told reporters that ISIS is plotting an imminent attack.
In a meeting with journalists at the United Nations, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he had just learned of the plot by foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq to attack subway systems in the U.S. and Paris. He said it had not been thwarted and that the United States had been alerted.
"Today, while I'm here I'm receiving accurate reports from Baghdad that there were arrests of a few elements and there were networks from inside Iraq to have attacks ... on metros of Paris and U.S.," al-Abadi said, speaking in English, according to the Associated Press. "They are not Iraqis. Some of them are French, some of them are Americans. But they are in Iraq."
Virtually every major U.S. law enforcement agency and intelligence agency said they had no evidence of any such plot. The report is viewed as "total bunk," according to a senior intelligence official.
Sources noted there was U.S. intelligence about a month ago that the New York region’s commuter rail system could be the target of a threat, but authorities at the FBI, New York City Police, Port Authority Police and Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not find any specific plot.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said officials in Washington had not confirmed the plot described by the Iraqi prime minister and were looking into the report. "We take any threat seriously and always work to corroborate information we receive from our partners," Hayden said. "We're obviously very focused on the issue of foreign fighters, as you saw evidenced yesterday at the [United Nations] Security Council session the president chaired.”
U.S. officials said they found it odd that the prime minister would make such a public announcement about such a threat instead of sharing it through normal channels.
"At this time no similar threat reporting can be located," the Department of Homeland Security said in a bulletin. "Nor is it clear who, or what agencies in the United States Government were alerted."