Ramadan Attacks Prompt US to Sound Terror Alarm
U.S. officials are sounding a holiday terror alarm that's one of the most serious in years. Their concern: recent attacks overseas combined with stepped-up recruiting in the United States and a call-to-arms during Ramadan.
In the last week, terrorists have struck and killed innocent vacationers in Tunisia, leaving 39 dead. In Kuwait, a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque, killing 27 and injuring hundreds.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks. Meanwhile on Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked troops serving with NATO in Afghanistan.
This weekend, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent an alert to 18,000 law enforcement agencies. It warned of possible ISIS-inspired attacks in the United States over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
"There's great concern. I would say there's probably more concern now than at any time since September 11," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.
Another cause for concern is a new social media campaign by ISIS. It's currently blasting at least 90,000 messages a day worldwide, urging mass murder. It's just the latest in an on-going campaign to recruit young people in the United States.
"ISIL has spent about a year investing in trying to reach troubled minds in the United States through social media, to either recruit them to come to their so-called caliphate to fight or to kill where they stand," FBI director James Comey said.
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell said, "There's been about 50 people in the last six months arrested in the U.S. for being radicalized by ISIS, wanting to go fight there. There's a lot of people out there who are seeing themselves aligned with ISIS."
Downplaying the Threat
Although law enforcement is urging the public to be cautious and vigilant, they're not asking people to hold back on holiday plans.
"I think people need to get out and enjoy the 4th of July," Kyle Loven, spokesman at the FBI's Minneapolis field office, said.
And publicly, at least, the White House is downplaying the threat.
"There is no specific, credible intelligence to indicate any threats of celebrations over the Fourth of July weekend," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
The FBI, however, is conducting an aggressive campaign targeting suspected radicals.
The agency has made seven arrests in the last two weeks, including a Queens College student who authorities say was conducting surveillance on the George Washington Bridge.