12/21/2010 01:44 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Inside The NYPD's 'Mumbai-Like' Anti-Terrorist Exercises

New York and the NYPD have been training for a Mumbai-like terrorist attack ever since the Mumbai attacks in November of 2008. On December 3rd, the police department conducted an extensive (and elaborately story-boarded) fictional attack on the city to test its anti-terrorist capabilities.

The Wall Street Journal obtained a memo detailing the inner workings of the attack, and just what invented horrors were lobbed at the NYPD to gauge the city's readiness. What was unique about this simulation was that unlike the attacks of September 11th, 2001, which locally was a single disastrous event, this exercise ran a series of coordinated and simultaneous attacks around the city designed precisely to cripple both the leadership of the city and its antiterrorist responsiveness.

Mirroring the attacks of Mumbai, in which 10 gunmen attacked various locations throughout the Indian capital, the events of New York's attack simulation unfolded like this:

President Obama is in town for a bill signing at the World Trade Center. At the same time, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is schedule to appear in court at 10 am. A bomb goes off at City Hall station, Foley Square federal courthouse and FBI headquarters.

The president goes to the World Trade Center to sign the bill. A bomb goes off nearby, and the president is evacuated. Then, an explosion goes off in Macy's, and gunfire is also reporting at Herald Square. Police learn that gunmen have taken hostages inside of Macy's. The police chief visits Bellevue hospital; the hospital is bombed.

Such worst-case-scenario attacks continue in the simulation. The December 3rd simulation is the eighth such exercise the city has run, and each time police learn something. For example, this time it became clear that:

  • Evacuating Macy's, which is what police did in the simulation, was actually not the best route.
  • The NYPD should have blueprints for all large public spaces, especially department stores.
  • City buses are a great way to evacuate civilians.