ISIS leader's potentially chilling remark added to reasons NYC 'vigilant'

A chilling remark reportedly made by the leader of ISIS to American captors in 2009 – “I’ll see you in New York” – has been added to the city’s reasons to remain “vigilant,” Mayor Bill De Blasio said.

However, neither he nor Police Commissioner William Bratton said they were aware of any specific threat to New York.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), allegedly made the comment  to reservists at Camp Bucca, a U.S. detention camp, according to a high ranking Army official who spoke with the Daily Beast.

But it wasn’t clear if it was a legitimate threat or an idle goodbye.

Army Col. Kenneth King, then the commanding officer of Camp Bucca, a former detention facility run by the U.S. military near Umm Qasr, said that al-Baghdadi was aware that many of the soldiers there were from Long Island. They were reservists from the 306 Military Police Battalion, which includes members from the NYPD and NYFD.

King told the news site that he believed al-Baghdadi was simply wisecracking.

“Like,‘This is no big thing, I’ll see you on the block,’” King said.

Five years later, al-Baghdadi is the leader of ISIS, an extremist Al Qaeda offshoot that has unleashed its fury on Iraq, taking over city after city enroute to Baghdad.

“We are certainly aware of the statement that he made. We don’t take any threat lightly,” De Blasio said during a press conference Tuesday when asked about al-Baghdadi.

“I’ve said many times we know we are sadly the number one terror target in the world. That continues, that will continue for quite a while and we plan with that assumption in mind, we resource the NYPD with that assumption in mind and we are constantly vigilant because we know that reality. So we are quite aware of the statement that he has made. We are quite aware of the growth of this organization and it’s something that I’ve talked to Commissioner Bratton about regularly and when it’s appropriate to talk to our federal partners, we do. But rest assured we are quite vigilant in this situation.”

On Wednesday, Bratton said that the Department was not aware of any specific threats to the city but added that they will need to remain vigilant.

“I think the comments that are being widely reported on from the apparent leader of the ISIS group reflect the reality of our city, that we have been and will continue to remain one of the top terrorist targets in the world,” he said, according to CBS New York.

A senior law-enforcement official told it was not believed there was any specific or credible threat toward New York in regards to anything said by the ISIS leader while at Camp Bucca.

Al-Baghdadi and his sudden rise as the leader of ISIS are shrouded in mystery since not much is known about how he gained power. He keeps a much lower profile than his predecessors, his name is a pseudonym and there are only two photos of the 43-year-old. It is believed that he may be running ISIS’ offensive in hiding from Iraq’s eastern Diyala province.


Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @perrych