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Hub ramps up security presence in face of possible threat

A Federal Protective Service officer patrolled the Joe Moakley Federal Courthouse yesterday with a bomb-sniffing dog. A Federal Protective Service officer patrolled the Joe Moakley Federal Courthouse yesterday with a bomb-sniffing dog. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / September 10, 2011

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Authorities in the Boston area are beefing up security this weekend after receiving information about terrorist threats in New York City and Washington to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said yesterday.

“There will be an increased uniformed presence’’ across the city, Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said in a telephone interview.

Davis and other public safety officials said security will be heightened even though there are no reports of any threats affecting Massachusetts or New England.

He said officers will focus on memorial services being held in the city, public transit lines, and any place where large crowds are expected, and that police will work with federal authorities to monitor intelligence.

“We’re being very vigilant, and we would encourage people to call us’’ if they see any suspicious behavior, Davis said.

Counterterrorism officials in the United States said they received a tip that Al Qaeda plans to set off a car bomb in New York or Washington around the anniversary of the attacks. The tip has not been confirmed.

David Mackey, the acting interim chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport, said increased security at Logan will include additional personnel and roadblocks, as well as K-9 units.

He said security has also been heightened at other Massport-controlled locations, such as the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, Hanscom Field, and Worcester Regional Airport.

“We’re on high alert,’’ Mackey said. “Our security partners . . . are very much ramped up.’’

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority had a security plan in place for the anniversary before learning of the threat reports, said Joseph O’Connor, deputy chief of the MBTA Transit police.

He said the plan includes an increased presence of uniformed and plainclothes officers on the transit system.

“Currently there is no threat to mass transit in the Commonwealth, but we continue to ask our passengers to remain vigilant’’ and report suspicious activity, O’Connor said.

He said the daily program of random bag checks throughout the system will also be in effect. Under the program, bags are randomly inspected with explosive trace detection equipment, O’Connor said. Authorities do not look inside the bags unless harmful traces are detected.

David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said in a statement that even before learning of the threats, the agency had assigned increased patrols to an interfaith service and a concert scheduled on the Esplanade this weekend.

He said State Police representatives from the Joint Terrorism Task Force will be on duty with members of other agencies at an FBI intelligence post to monitor developments.

“Please bear in mind that there remains no known nexus from the [threat] intelligence to New England and there is no specific actionable intelligence for Massachusetts,’’ Procopio said. “But as ever, we will be vigilant and ready to respond immediately to any suspicious activity anywhere in the state.’’

Brian R. Ballou of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.