Gottheimer, Rose Pressure TSA to Prohibit Potentially Dangerous Cookers from Airplanes to Protect from Homegrown Terror

Gottheimer walks a tightrope through tangled impeachment terrain.

Gottheimer, Rose Pressure TSA to Prohibit Potentially Dangerous Cookers from Airplanes to Protect from Homegrown Terror

 

Congressmen call for pressure cookers, which have been used in ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks, to be included on list of prohibited carry-on items

 

 

NEWARK, NJ – Today, Tuesday, November 26, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Congressman Max Rose (NY-11), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism held a press conference at Newark Liberty International Airport to call on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to include pressure cookers on the list of prohibited items. Pressure cookers have often been used as homemade bombs by terrorists, and recently the mere presence of an unattended pressure cooker on a New York City subway platform led to serious disruption and investigation.

 

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has declared homegrown violent extremists as the single-highest threat to New Jersey this year. As has the FBI.

 

“Today, we are taking steps to fight back against terror and to protect our homeland. We are here to sound the alarm on dangerous devices that could bring our major hubs to a standstill or worse—cause irreparable harm to Americans travelers. We are here to help prevent homegrown terrorists from striking and causing panic,” Congressman Josh Gottheimer said. “The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has declared homegrown violent extremists as the single-highest threat to New Jersey this year. With that in mind, and as we go into the busiest travel time of the year, Congressman Rose and I are calling on TSA to add pressure cookers to their list of prohibited items. New Jersey and New York, as we will always stand in the shadows of 9/11, will continue to stand together in the global fight against terror.”

 

“To be quite honest, I couldn’t believe that pressure cookers weren’t already prohibited from being a carry-on. Safe and efficient travel should be our priority, and the sight of an unattended pressure cooker on a plane or in an airport terminal could wreak havoc during the busy holiday travel season,” Congressman Max Rose said. “On one of the busiest travel days of the year, it’s important we thank those who work day in and day out to let us travel safely and securely—but the last thing we want on days like today is for a major scare, or even worse, a terrorist attack. Which is why before we witness a tragedy or a chaotic shutdown of an airport, we’re calling on TSA to add pressure cookers to the list of prohibited carry-on items.”

 

At the press conference, Rose and Gottheimer released a letter sent to the head of the TSA along with several of their colleagues outlining the history of destruction and disruption pressure cookers have caused.

 

In the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, terrorists used pressure cooker bombs which killed three and wounded over 260 innocent bystanders. In 2016, a pressure cooker was used in the Chelsea neighborhood bombing in New York City which injured over thirty people and caused property damage across a 650-foot crime scene. This August, the mere presence of pressure cookers in the Fulton Street subway station brought major sections of the subway system to a standstill as the station was evacuated and the New York Police Department Bomb Squad investigated.

 

A New Jersey family in 2017 notified law enforcement after they discovered a relative plotting to use a pressure-cooker bomb to “kill as many people as possible” in support of ISIS. During the investigation, officers found books on jihad and suicide bombing.

 

“Placing pressure cookers on the prohibited items list would increase security by not allowing them to be brought into airports and mistaken for an explosive device, which could easily create a panic situation,” wrote the Members of Congress in a letter to TSA Administrator David Peter Pekoske. “It would increase efficiency by not exposing people who place pressure cookers in their carry-on bags to extra security screening thus increasing lines and wait times for others. Pressure cookers have become a dangerously simple way for terrorists to attack our citizens and cause massive disruptions in the way we live our lives. Allowing these devices in carry-on bags on planes invites panic at airports and exposes us to untold risk. Traveling during the holiday season is stressful enough without being confronted by an item we have come to identify as a possible instrument of death and destruction.”

 

Rose and Gottheimer were joined on the letter to the TSA by Congressman Lou Correa of California, Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation & Maritime Security, Congressman André Carson of Indiana, and Congressman Gil Cisneros of California.

 

Full text of the letter HERE.

 

 

Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

 

It’s great to be here at Newark Liberty International Airport with my great friend, colleague, fellow Problem Solver, and fellow giant, Congressman Max Rose.

 

Congressman, welcome to the greatest state in the nation – one day, you too, if you’re lucky, can live here. I’m so glad you could make the trek, always happy to give you a temporary pass. Kidding aside, thank you for your patriotic service to our great country, for your indominable, fearless fight in Congress, and for your unending dedication to protecting Americans at home and abroad from terror. And thank you for your work in bringing this issue to light.

 

Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year. Tomorrow, TSA expecting to screen about 2.7 million people.  When dealing with this massive increase in travelers, safety is the greatest priority.

 

Our TSA workers and law enforcement are on the frontlines of keeping our skies and our airports secure. I thank them for their day-in, day-out commitment to our safety – especially during this time of year.

 

We all agree that we must do everything we can to protect our homeland from terror, and that means we must do everything we can to stay one step ahead of the terrorist.  The steps we are proposing today on focused on just that.

 

We are here to sound the alarm on dangerous devices that could be used by terrorist to strike, cause mass panic, and bring our major hubs to a standstill … or worse – could cause irreparable harm to Americans travelers.

 

Pressure cookers have been used as terrorist bombs to attack and to kill — throughout the U.S. and throughout the world — and here, in the middle of our transportation hubs, our safety must always be the number one priority.

 

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has declared homegrown violent extremists as the single-highest threat to New Jersey this year. As has the FBI.

 

With this in mind, Congressman Rose and I are calling on the TSA to add pressure cookers to the TSA list of prohibited items when flying.

 

Terrorists have used pressure cookers to create devastating explosions – many have changed the fabric of our country forever. The Boston Marathon bombing, the Chelsea explosion, and the Manhattan subway bombing — were all caused by the same type of device — a simple pressure cooker.

 

This past summer, pressure cookers found on the New York City subway shut our subway down for hours. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it shows the risk that these devices pose. Residents know what they can be turned into. They know the possible danger.   It’s time for the TSA to follow suit.

 

Believe it or not, Al-Qaeda’s online English-language propaganda magazine, “Inspire,” has published bomb-making instructions before – detailing how to create one of these explosive pressure cooker devices.

 

Here in New Jersey, a family in 2017 notified law enforcement after they discovered a relative plotting to use a pressure-cooker bomb to “kill as many people as possible” in support of ISIS. During the investigation, officers found books on jihad and suicide bombing.

 

These threats are real and too often they’re right in our backyards. We must always remain vigilant in the fight against terror.

 

With these devices currently allowed on planes, they can be brought into airports, mistaken for an explosive device, and cause true panic.  Today, we are urging the TSA to reconsider and ban pressure cookers from being taken on airplanes.

 

We must never get lulled into a false sense of complacency – because that’s when homegrown terrorists strike.

 

Even in the last several months, homegrown terrorists with connections to Hezbollah and Hamas have struck here in New Jersey – two found in Basking Ridge in Somerset County and Morristown in Morris County. They were radicalized online. As these risks continue to arise, new ways of attacking and causing panic will occur.

 

So, when we see a threat, we must always stay a step ahead. I hope that TSA, which does so much incredible work protecting American travelers, will take a stand and add these devices onto the prohibited items list. There is simply no reason why homegrown, ISIS-inspired, lone-wolf terrorists should be able to incite panic on our residents.

 

These devices are dangerous, and what may be worse — they are dangerously simple.

 

I’m sure that there are those out there who will say that there’s nothing more we can do to protect Jersey families from terrorism. I simply refuse to accept that.

 

That’s why I’m introducing the FASTER Act — bipartisan legislation that gives law enforcement the capability to freeze the assets of all domestic terrorists when a suspect is arrested by, or turned over to federal law enforcement — because we simply cannot run the risk of funds from an ISIS-inspired terrorist being used to carry out another attack by friends, family, or accomplices operating in a small cell.

 

I’ve also introduced bipartisan legislation to require the installation of secondary cockpits barriers on existing aircraft, to block access to the flight deck whenever the cockpit door is opened during a flight — to prevent terrorist attacks similar to 9/11.  This bipartisan legislation builds on the bill we passed and signed into law last congress, which covered new aircraft.

 

It’s also why Congressman Rose and I, working with a bipartisan group, have been calling on American-based social media companies to stop blatantly violating U.S. law and to remove all content from Foreign Terrorist Organizations and affiliated profiles, including Hamas and Hezbollah. Earlier this month, we were glad to see Twitter to take measures to address the militant jihadist organizations on their platform –and remove Hamas, Hezbollah, and their affiliate twitter handles.

 

Congressman Rose and I will continue to stand up against all forms of terror, hate, and bigotry, and help stop terrorists from recruiting, radicalizing, spewing hate, and causing panic.

 

New Jersey and New York, as we will always stand in the shadows of 9/11, will continue to stand together to keep American families safe.

 

I look forward to continuing to work with the TSA, to always thank them and our brave law enforcement for protecting us, and to commit ourselves to take these next steps in the war on terror.

 

We live in the greatest country in the world, and, together, we will ensure that our best days will always be ahead of us and that our families are safe. We should ask for no less during this holiday season.

 

Thank you, happy Thanksgiving, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

 

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