Independence Day could be a day targeted for terrorist attacks, according to U.S. security officials. The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center issued the bulletin, saying that there is a higher risk around the holiday though there is not a specific plot determined.
The warning arose after terrorists issued attacks in Kuwait, France, and Tunisia. Sixty-five people were killed in those attacks, all of which occurred within hours of each other last week. A French victim was beheaded. The Islamic State group, known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the Kuwait incident.
In the warning, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson advised local law enforcement to be extra aware around July 4. He said national defense is also on guard. “We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared. We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people,” Johnson said.
Experts state these possible attacks will not be an organized effort of highly trained terrorists like what happened in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Terrorism leaders are telling those following them, presuming to be sleeper agents in the United States, to initiate acts in a variety of ways as they wish. Officials said public places like shopping malls and Independence Day celebrations involving large crowds are of particular risk.
“This is an indication of the way of the future, where you have several lone wolf attacks in multiple countries at the same time,” said ISIS expert Andre Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Some of the evidence backing the need for warnings includes intelligence chatter involving purported plans to disrupt Independence Day with terror attacks and the speed in which foreign terrorist groups are recruiting people over the Internet.
Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said military bases could also be a target for terrorists on Independence Day. He said ISIS is publicly calling for attacks during July, which is Ramadan, Islamic’s holy month, as well as marking Islamic State’s first anniversary and Independence Day. The timing of these days is prompting the repeated warnings that Independence Day could be targets for terror attacks.
“I think given these confluence of events we are being on the cautious side here to warn the public to remain vigilant; enjoy the Fourth of July parades, but remain vigilant during these celebrations,” McCaul said. He wants new legislation to help fight terrorism on U.S. soil. He introduced a bill to create a federal office aimed at battling violent extremism in this country. The office, which would be open full-time, would be under the Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, six people were arrested in June for attempting to help or join ISIS in Syria and Iraq, according to an announcement from the Justice Department. There are ongoing efforts to find others seeking to betray the United States, according to officials. Officials said the terrorist group is aiming at recruiting those who feel disconnected from the American way of life, along with those who are deranged or agree with the terrorists’ ideology.
Suspected terrorists were arrested in New York in a series of captures. Those arrests include three men taken into custody on allegations they were involved in a plan to fire pressure-cooker type of explosives in New York City. One of the men is facing charges of attempted murder after he allegedly used a kitchen knife to attack an FBI agent.
While Independence Day could be targets for terror attacks, local cities and towns are continuing with their July 4 celebrations. Law enforcement is not taking the warnings lightly but is increasing the numbers of officers to guarantee the public’s safety.
By Melody Dareing
USA Today: House Leaders warn Americans of July 4 terror threats
The Hill: Bulletin Warns of Potential July 4 Terror Attack
ABC15 Arizona: FBI, Homeland Security: July Fourth Terror Attacks Possible
Photo Courtesy of Kendra Flickr Page – Creative Commons License