Crowd-pulling India-Pakistan cricket match in New York threatened with terror attack

ISIS-K has carried out attacks in Pakistan and has threatened terror strikes on India. In March, ISIS-K terrorists attacked a concert hall in Moscow killing about 130 people adding gravity to the latest threat.

Arul Louis May 30, 2024
Representational Photo (Photo: Twitter)

One of world cricket’s biggest extravaganzas being staged in the United States for the first time is being threatened by a “lone wolf” terror attack on the India-Pakistan match - the crowd-pulling showpiece match of the nearly month-long tournament - on June 9 in New York. In a video that has gone global, the terror group ISIS-K is “calling for that ‘Lone Wolf’ to act out”, said Patrick Ryder, the police commissioner of Nassau County where the match is scheduled. 

“Lone Wolves” are members or sympathisers of terrorist organisations who operate independently by themselves making it more difficult to track them down. ISIS-Khorasan is the offshoot of the Islamic State terrorist organisation operating in South and Central Asia.

The ninth edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will run from June 1 to June 29, being jointly hosted by the USA and Caribbean nations where cricket is very popular. The US is seeking to popularise the game by leveraging its large population from South Asia where cricket is a passion in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal. All six countries are participating in the tournament. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement on Wednesday that she has "directed the New York State Police to engage in elevated security measures, including an increased law enforcement presence, advanced surveillance, and thorough screening processes”.

Bruce Blakeman, the head of Nassau County bordering New York City, said at a news conference, “We make sure that we are on top of every situation that could potentially arise. Now to that end, we have taken many many precautions”.

Additional police officers will be mobilised at the cricket stadium at Nassau Country International Cricket Stadium at Eisenhower Park, Ryder said at the news conference. “When you got a game and a crowd as big as this, everything is credible”.

He said they had received threats starting in April “where it was a global and international style threat from what's called ISIS-K”.

“Then it got a little bit more specific towards the actual game of India versus Pakistan but did not name the place”, he said. “And then yesterday, you all saw the video that went global, and they are calling for that ‘Lone Wolf’ to act out”.

He was referring to a video with “an image of the cricket stadium at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County with drones flying over it showing the date, “9/06/2024”, when the India-Pakistan match, that was posted by ISIS-K on a British chat site. With the display of drones as attack vehicles, NBC New York TV reported that county officials “say they've made the request to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to make Eisenhower Park a no-fly zone for drones”. 

The stadium, which has a 30,000-capacity, was built specially for the tournament. An India-Bangladesh warm-up match will be played in the stadium on June 1. 

ISIS-K has carried out attacks in Pakistan and has threatened terror strikes on India. In March, ISIS-K terrorists attacked a concert hall in Moscow killing about 130 people adding gravity to the latest threat.

NBC New York TV said that the security preparations for the World Cup event were the largest that Nassau County has undertaken and it is being treated on par with presidential debates.

The British newspaper Express first reported on the threat, which it said was also directed against sporting venues in Europe including the Wembley stadium. It said that ISIS “followers are encouraged to target major events” including the Cricket World Cup.

“There were also extensive discussions on the forum as to how the terror group should use drones laden with explosives to murder civilians at major sporting events across Europe”, the Express said of the postings on a chat group posted on the British website Matrix.

The Express said, “Chat room members who shared the stadium threats listed their terror skills, including firing AK47 rifles, and discussed sums of money in pound Sterling, suggesting some might be based in Britain”.

A total of three venues in the USA and six in the Caribbean will be used, according to the International Cricket Council (ICC), cricket's governing body. Ten of the 20 teams will play their first match of the 29-day tournament in the USA, with 16 contests to be held in Lauderhill, Dallas and New York and the blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan in Long Island on June 9.

Forty-one matches will be played in the Caribbean across six different islands, with the semi-finals in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana and the title decider scheduled to be played in Bridgetown, Barbados on 29 June.

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