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Police authorities in the US have announced plans to fill the New York subways with colourless gas, in a mock-terror drill.

A recent announcement by the NYPD revealed that the force intends to release a “harmless” gas into the subway over three consecutive days in July.

They claim that their aim is to test New York’s readiness to handle a chemical terrorist attack by dispersing the gas and tracing it as it flows through the city, according to Scientific American.

The test will be nicknamed the Subway-Surface Air Flow Exchange. Perfluorocarbon tracer gases (PFTs) will be used to measure potential sites for underground construction.

In a statement, police commissioner Ray Kelly, said: “The NYPD works for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to potentially catastrophic attacks such as ones employing radiological contaminants or weaponized anthrax.”

They said that around 200 detectors will be used to monitor the gas. The test will be the largest of its kind and organized in cooperation with the energy department’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.

But in a country which has in the past been known to test radioactive weapons on its own citizens, under similar reassurances of safety, just how convinced will New Yorkers be by this latest plan of the government?


Interestingly, some of the major terrorist attacks in the 21st century have occurred shortly after a ‘mock’ drill.

On September 11th 2001 for example, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and CIA, planned a simulated exercise called ‘Vigilante Guardian’ in which a small jet “crashes” into one of the four towers at the agency’s headquarters in New York.

The government said it was a “bizarre coincidence” that one of the most important U.S. intelligence agencies had planned to fly a mock plane-into-building crash on Sept. 11, according to the Associated Press who reported the story on August 22. The NRO exercise was cancelled following the attacks on the day.

NRO spokesman Art Haubold said of the attacks: “It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility. As soon as the real world events began, we cancelled the exercise.”

On July 7th 2005 in the UK on the other hand, another mock terror drill took place involving explosions in the same London underground stations where the bombs were detonated during the 7/7 bombings.

In a BBC interview, Peter Power, revealed how his company, Visor Consultants staged the bombings before becoming embroiled in a real attack shortly afterwards.
He said: “At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London, based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.”

You can listen to his audio interview here.

 He gave similar accounts to ITV News, Canadian news channel CBS and Manchester Evening News.

So if mock terror drills had taken place shortly before real life terror incidents on the same day in the same place in the past, one thing we can deduce from these very interesting coincidences is that at the very least, they did not help to prevent the terrorism or reduce the scale of tragedy that occurred shortly afterwards. A remarkable coincidence indeed.

Perhaps then, when “harmless” and colourless gases are released into the subway stations in yet another mock-terror drill, those travelling in New York at the time, should take extra precautions when using the transport system, despite the assurances given by the police authorities.

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