Christie tells New Jerseyans: We are in a life-and-death struggle with terrorists
HANOVER — As terror suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was being captured by police in Linden Monday morning, Gov. Chris Christie was just beginning a 'Fairness Formula' town hall in Whippany.
Before discussing the topic of school funding and answering questions from the audience, Christie said he had been in contact with President Barack Obama as well as top law enforcement officials in New Jersey — including the attorney general, State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and PreparednessChris Rodriguez — getting updates on how the investigation was progressing.
“We need to be vigilant. It’s not a time to be intimidated,” he said. “We need to be on our guard, and we need to keep our eyes open.”
Christie then said the war being waged with terrorists is literally a life-and-death struggle.
“It’s important to remember why we’re being attacked. They want to kill us to end our way of life. It’s not more complicated than that,” he said. “They don’t like the fact that America stands for freedom and for liberty."
He pointed out if someone is gay in Iran, or wants a divorce in Afghanistan, the penalty is death.
“They don’t like the fact that we defend the defenseless, and they don’t like the fact that we speak for human rights and equal opportunity for everybody,” said Christie.
Christie added terrorism has unfortunately become a part of our everyday lives.
“We live in the most ethnically diverse state in America,” he said. “As a result it makes the challenges law enforcement faces even more difficult.”
Christie then told the crowd: “We need collectively, I think, as a people, to raise our voices and empower our law enforcement officers, empower our elected officials to do what needs to be done to keep our country safe. It is a different world and we need to say out loud that those people who are radical, especially those who are Islamic radical terrorists need to be called out, we need to be willing to talk about it.”
He then urged those in attendance and throughout the state to pick up the phone and call law enforcement if anything seems odd or unusual.
"We should be living in a state of awareness every day, because it’s not the kind of stuff you get warning for, all of a sudden it just happens," the governor said. "We have to be in a state of awareness every day. If we are, then we’re going to be able to be great soldiers with law enforcement in making sure that we keep our families, our friends and our loved ones safe.”
Early Saturday, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity race to benefit Marines. The blast was contained in a plastic trash can on the curb of the intersection of D Street and Ocean Avenue. No one was hurt, but the event was postponed.
Then, Saturday night, a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombing injured 29 people in New York's Chelsea section, though none were hurt seriously.
New Jersey residents awoke to news of further threats Monday morning — learning that late Sunday night, two homeless men discovered five explosives in a backpack, in trash can near an Elizabeth train station. One was detonated as authorities tried to disarm it. No one was hurt.
Within hours, authorities had swarmed Rahami's last known address, at Elmora and Linden Avenues, above a chicken take-out restaurant his family owned. He was not home. He was later captured in Linden, but not until two officers were wounded in a shootout.
The Elizabeth incident suspended service on the Northeast Corridor NJ Transit line early Monday.
Christie said Monday inspections have been done of all New Jersey Transit stations on the Northeast Corridor line, and sweeps are also being done of all PATH stations and tunnels.
“All of the things that need to be done to be done to make sure our commuting public is kept safe,” he said.
Christie closed by telling the crowd a clear message must be sent to terrorists.
“We love this country and what we stand for and we are not going to change at the end of a loaded gun or a detonated bomb or any other weapon of violence they use against us,” he said.