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No ‘credible’ threat ahead of Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, security assessment finds

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(NEW YORK) -- A security assessment issued Thursday said there is no "credible" threat at this time ahead of next week's New Year's Eve celebration in New York City's Times Square, which will bring back a limited crowd after last year's virtual event.

Law enforcement agencies "have no information to indicate a credible, specific threat to, or associated with, the 2021-2022 Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration," according to the assessment, which was obtained by ABC News.

The threat assessment does indicate a general concern about “the sustained interest of homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists in targeting mass gatherings despite the lack of information indicating a credible, specific threat."

The city will allow 15,000 people at this year's scaled-back ball drop, which was closed to crowds last year due to the pandemic. With spectators returning, law enforcement officials are concerned about lone offenders or small groups potentially targeting the event.

"[Homegrown violent extremists] are of particular concern due to their ability to remain undetected until operational, their willingness to attack civilians and soft targets, and their ability to inflict significant casualties with simple tactics,” the assessment stated.

Domestic terrorists could also be inspired to target the celebration, the assessment stated, citing “likely non-credible online posts mentioning the event as a potential opportunity to launch attacks."

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, New York City Police Department, AMTRAK Police Department and Port Authority Police Department issued the threat assessment.

The city typically allows 58,000 people in viewing areas at the Times Square celebration. The smaller attendance at this year's event will allow for social distancing, according to the mayor's office, which announced the capacity limits Thursday as COVID-19 cases spike in the city.

Those who attend will be required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks, the office also announced. Guest entry will also begin at 3 p.m., which is "much later" than past years, it said.

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