Is ISIS plotting a U.S. strike on the Fourth of July? Police and spies raise alert amid concerns radicalized supporters may attack on holiday weekend
- Intelligence and police sources said they were aware of pending attacks
- Declined to give details – but said their intelligence predated attacks on Tunisia, Kuwait and France on Friday
Published: 00:38, 27 June 2015 | Updated: 14:20, 27 June 2015
Police and intelligence officials are said to be on high alert to the potential of an ISIS terror attack against the U.S. on the Fourth of July.
Law enforcement and spies are said to be preparing for a strike on Independence Day itself, or the days surrounding it, based on specific intelligence.
The threats are said to predate the spate of terror attacks worldwide on Friday, which hit tourists in Tunisia, workers in France and Muslim worshipers in Kuwait.
Unnamed sources briefed NBC News on the alleged terror threat, claiming they were reacting to ‘both intelligence and analysis’.
However, none of the sources went into any detail of the claims. ISIS terror attacks can be hard to predict because the group tries to appeal to ‘lone wolf’ attackers who strike without officially being directed by the organization.
Agents of the terror regime on social media often encourage followers overseas to strike out, but do not directly instruct them, making it hard to track their plans.
America’s celebration of freedom and nationhood would make an obvious target, with millions celebrating across the country.
The warning comes as federal investigators have worked to disrupt a number of Islamic State-inspired plots, including a planned assault earlier this month on police officers in Boston. In that case, authorities fatally shot Usaamah Rahim as he allegedly planned to attack police with military-style knives.
Also this month, a New York suspect in a Islamic State-related terror investigation was arrested after attacking an FBI agent with a kitchen knife during a search of his home.
Fareed Mumuni, 21, was charged with attempted murder, after he emerged as a suspect in alleged plots to use pressure-cooker explosives and knives to attack police.
In a statement Friday following attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said local law enforcement was being encouraged to be “vigilant and prepared” in preparation for July 4th celebrations.
“We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people,” Johnson said. “We continue to encourage all Americans to attend public events and celebrate this country during this summer season, but always remain vigilant.”
The FBI has admitted that there are probably hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Islamic State sympathizers in the U.S. who may have been radicalized online. This has led to the FBI beginning a roundup of potential lone wolf terrorists.
Since the thwarted attack on a “Draw Muhammad” conference in Garland, Texas, on May 3, the Justice Department has announced the arrests of 10 individuals it says were inspired by and supporting the Islamic State. The lawmakers say there have been more arrests that have not yet been announced.
They say the FBI has shifted its approach toward arrests rather than keeping suspects under surveillance, and is also targeting individuals thought to be planning attacks in the U.S., unlike the bureau’s past focus on volunteers preparing to join ISIS’s fight abroad.
“Lately, we have seen an uptick in the number of arrests of ISIL followers who were planning violent acts in our homeland,” said John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security. “ISIL, differing from some other foreign terrorist organizations, has demonstrated that they see value in mobilizing sympathizers anywhere in the world.”
The spate of arrests comes in response to what Congressional leaders and the Justice Department say is a mounting threat that radicalized Americans will attempt low-tech, lone wolf attacks in the near future. Lawmakers see the changes as necessary because the Islamic State uses social media so effectively to radicalize Americans and because the group is getting better at using encryption to shield its communications with new recruits.
The two major terror attacks carried out in France this year were by ISIS radicals known to authorities. Could the attacks have been stymied if French authorities had been as proactive as the FBI is apparently getting?
It hardly matters. We are in for a long period where the terrorists are going to be difficult to identify before they strike, making interdicting terrorist attacks extremely problematic.
Fourth of July terror warning issued by FBI, Homeland Security
U.S. Authorities Worry of Terror Attack over 4th of July