Passengers at area airports stepped out Monday morning into a brave new world — one without the specter of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, but with new fears about possible retaliatory attacks by the terrorist network he founded, Al Qaeda.
Responding to those concerns, officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced they would increase security at their facilities, which include major hubs like Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and Kennedy International airports.
"This response is not based on a current threat, but out of an abundance of caution until we have the chance to learn more," said Port Authority executive director Chris Ward in a statement released early Monday morning. "In the meantime, all Port Authority facilities remain fully operational and at normal service levels."
New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly also sent a message to all police commands for officers to remain alert, according to the Associated Press.
At Kennedy International, Clifton Gayle, a traveler visiting friends and family in Queens, said he was at first apprehensive about making his flight back to the Cayman Islands this morning.
"Basically, I was concerned that I would maybe be bombarded by certain security procedures, but things seem to be normal, things seem to be calm," Gayle said.
For Delta Connections flight attendant Joe Graham of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this morning's commute to work signaled the beginning of increased vigilance after Sunday's shootout in Pakistan that left Bin Laden and his associates dead.
"I do know that we're very much aware of the fact that there very well may be some retaliation for the death of Bin Laden, and we're all prepared," Graham said. "If anything, it's that we're going to be a bit more cognizant of people and their actions and basically have our wits about us in the course of our duties."
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