Saturday, November 20, 2010
Rev.'s God squad - Firebrand Koran cleric's NY cop detail
It was a security detail worthy of a head of state, not a head case.
A fiery fundamentalist preacher who had threatened to burn a Koran at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 in a protest against the proposed mosque there -- sparking an international controversy -- was treated to a massive security detail during a trip to New York this week, even as the city drowns in red ink.
Sources said a detail of five detectives, each earning at least $100,000 per year, and one who was pulled from his duties on a federal drug task force, were forced to sit twiddling their thumbs for five hours at La Guardia Airport as the Rev. Terry Jones waited to fly home to Florida.
At least three members of the security team, who are assigned to the NYPD's Intelligence Division, tailed Jones around the clock during his three-day trip that ended Wednesday.
Jones, who runs the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, whined that he has received a slew of death threats since the Koran controversy.
"That has become, in our last two visits to New York, pretty normal for us," he told The Post. "We very much appreciate this. We have had over 200 death threats against us."
Jones arrived in the Big Apple on Monday with the Rev. Wayne Sapp, an associate pastor at his church.
During the trip, he held a memorial ceremony to honor the fallen 9/11 first responders from the Port Authority, Fire Department and NYPD -- just steps from the proposed Ground Zero mosque where he had threatened to burn the Koran.
The pastor's police protection swelled on Wednesday morning as a pair of Port Authority officers -- one of whom is typically assigned to the airport detail and a second who was pulled from a federal drug task force -- joined him at the airport to guard him until he left.
Jones was initially scheduled to fly out at about 9:30 a.m., but decided to delay his departure so he could be met by someone who could drive him home from the Florida airport.
In the meantime, the five detectives sat patiently near him until about 2 p.m.
Jones deadpanned that he was worried about loonies in the city that might harbor ill will against him.
"New York City is very much of a hotbed -- there are definitely some radical elements there," he told The Post.