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Paint Attack at Council on Foreign Relations Launches Full Scale NYPD Hunt

By Murray Weiss | November 26, 2013 7:00am
 Council on Foreign Relations where extremist splashed paint on Nov. 5.
Council on Foreign Relations where extremist splashed paint on Nov. 5.
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DNAinfo/Murray Weiss

UPPER EAST SIDE — The NYPD has sent detectives into New Jersey trying to identify a “terror” suspect who tossed paint on the home of the Council on Foreign Relations, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Sources say the NYPD's Intelligence Division has a full-court press on for the person who splashed red and pink paint on two panels of the CFR’s building at the corner of Park Avenue and East 68th Street on Nov. 5.

The sources added that the department is treating the incident as a terror case.

Surveillance outside the building captured images of the suspect, sources told “On The Inside.”

The significance of the Nov. 5 date, and that red and pink paint were used, has captured the attention of investigators.

Nov. 5 coincides with Britain’s “Guy Fawkes Day," which is widely considered an anti-government day by anarchists and radicals because it marks the anniversary of an unsuccessful Fawkes-led conspiracy to blow up the English Parliament and take out then King James I.

Often, such anarchists wear a Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the movie "V for Vendetta."

Investigators believe the paint color is a significant clue, indicating the incident was not a random act.

Various types of violent groups or activist organizations commonly use red and pink paint.

For example, it has been a favorite of eco-terrorist organizations and animal rights groups, symbolizing bloodshed or environmental destruction.

The colors have also turned up in slogans written by anti-nuclear and anti-biochemical activist organizations. 

Investigators began scouring social networks for possible clues to the identity of the suspect and his affiliation. That led them to New Jersey where they conducted surveillance on several possible people of interest.

 Council On Foreign Relations where paint has been removed since Nov. 5 attack. 
Council On Foreign Relations where paint has been removed since Nov. 5 attack.  
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DNAinfo/Murray Weiss

Sources say the NYPD believes the attack is likely the work of an anti-government or anti-banking sympathizer, but they declined to explain further.

The CFR board and membership is composed of numerous former top government officials, including Colin Powell, as well as global banking executives, academics and journalists, including NBC’s Tom Brokaw and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

On its website, the Council on Foreign Relations claims to be an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank and publisher dedicated to being a public resource helping to better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

The CFR says it provides information and analysis about world events and American foreign policy.

Sources told DNAinfo New York they are surprised at the ferocity of the probe. The NYPD is labeling the incident a felony, arguing that the damage exceeds $1,000, rather than a lower-level criminal mischief case.

“They are treating this like the Lindberg baby case or a hunt for a Bin Laden associate,” one puzzled law enforcement official said.

The NYPD notified local New Jersey police officials when they forayed into various unidentified towns in the Garden State.

Several years ago, the NYPD was widely criticized for secretly venturing into New Jersey on alleged terror probes without informing authorities there.

A prosecutor from the Manhattan District Attorney's office has also been working with the NYPD from the start, sources said.

A CFR spokesman said the organization is cooperating with the police, and has no idea why they were targeted.

Since the incident, the CFR has scrubbed the paint from its façade.