A small army of U.S. security forces have been marshaled to protect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his venom-laced stay in New York where he has threatened the U.S. with a "war without boundaries" and suggested the U.S. may have secretly carried out the 9/11 terror attacks.
Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Ahmadinejad has a security force that dwarfs that ofall the other 140 visiting heads of state who are in New York City this week for the U.N. General Assembly.
"It's second only to a POTUS-sized package," a law enforcement official said, referring to the security acronym for the President of the United States.
Another described the force protecting Ahmadinejad the "classic high threat package."
The Iranian firebrand's security entourage bristles with elite officers with high tech weapons and gear. It includes Secret Service agents, uniformed and undercover New York City police officers, an ambulance, an armored vehicle known as a CAT car that comes with a heavily armed SWAT team and possibly an attack dog.
His motorcade also includes a large Secret Service truck that generally includes electronic jammers to prevent any remote controlled device from being detonated.
The Hilton Hotel where Ahmadinejad is staying is swarming with security personnel and has a Fire Department unit stationed there in case a fire breaks out in the hotel.
Counterterror and intelligence officials are monitoring electronic chatter and undercover informants on the street for any information that might change the threat profile, sources said.
In addition, the Iranian president brought along dozens of his own security agents.
"It's larger than all the other high profile people by far," a law enforcement source said.
Another source, however, said Ahmadinejad's security was "the same as other high threat countries," comparing it to what the leaders of Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan and China would get.
The elaborate effort to protect Ahmadinejad was on display earlier this week when a select audience was invited to breakfast with him.
Ahmadinejad's Massive Security Detail
Invitees were asked to RSVP and then be patient because the details of when and where the breakfast would take place were not provided until very close to the event itself.
When the day arrived, punctuality was a must. Vigorous searches of gear and airport-style patdowns preceded admittance to the room. The Secret Service was there, working alongside Ahmadinejad's own security detail (a rare moment of U.S.-Iranian cooperation). After 10 minutes or so of access to a buffet spread, guests were shooed away, ordered to their seats by Iranian officials. "The president is coming!"
Indeed he was, entering through the hotel kitchen. Eighty minutes later, after a question and answer session, Ahmadinejad smiled, waved, and was whisked back through the kitchen.
Added to the usual agita of protecting someone as unpopular as Ahmadinejad is the fact that instead of the usual two or three days visit to the U.N., the Iranian president made his stop a five day affair.
New Yorkers are already grumbling loudly about traffic tie-ups all over town, but they may not be the only ones grumbling about the costs. The State Department foots the bill: overall, an estimated $10 million to cover the beefed-up security for the UN meetings.
That includes such general security measures as having the New York Police departments's counterterrorism maritime team and Harbor Unit patrolling the East River where the U.N. is located.
Angry as New Yorkers or any U.S. taxpayers may be about this, the fact is that once the event is on, and the invitations issued, the city and the country are obliged to protect the guests. The security forces may soon be able to stand down. Ahmadinejad is due to return home Friday.