ISIS is threatening to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States over the Fourth of July weekend, with a Twitter account linked to the terrorist group threatening to carry out attacks at Los Angeles International, John F. Kennedy International, and London’s Heathrow airport.
The threat came late this week, just days after three Islamic State suicide bombers struck at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing 41 people and injuring 239 others. In another attack, terrorists killed more than 20 people in a shooting in Dhaka.
The latest threat claims that the attacks will be carried out on planes flying from London’s airport to the United States, the Independent reported, citing the terrorist group’s Twitter account.
The threat warned that “there will be a device placed in either [sic] Heathrow, LAX or JFK airports.” The threat was revealed by terrorist tracking group Site Intelligence Group and cited by the First Post.
The ISIS threat of a terrorist attack in the United States comes amid a busy weekend. There will be close to 1.2 million travelers passing trough LAX this weekend, the Los Angeles Times.
The ISIS threat was being taken seriously in the U.K., where Transport Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon called for travelers to take precaution and report any suspicious behavior.
“We all need to be vigilant to the global threat of terrorism — in Britain we keep all aspects of aviation security under constant review and work closely with our international partners to mitigate risks,” he said.
Officials in the United States said they are also taking precautions during the Fourth of July weekend, but sources told the Los Angeles Times that they do not believe the latest threat of an ISIS terrorist attack is legitimate.
Brian Levin, a counter-terrorism expert and professor at Cal State San Bernardino’s Center on Hate and Extremism, said that threats like the one made this week are often made in connection with a large holiday or event.
“This kind of chatter isn’t unusual around July 4th and other big holidays,” he said. “You have to assess the ability to carry out the plan.” Levin said the Tweets often are designed to influence Americans’ behavior and score a propaganda victory with nothing more than a piece of social media with an injection of fear.
“Airports are already at a heightened state of alert, so they aren’t really going to do anything more different,” he added.
Pro-ISIS group threatens LAX attack; security on alert, but officials question credibility of threat https://t.co/6bEnojs6G1— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) July 2, 2016
The ISIS threats against airports in the United States comes as a coalition of police in Turkey and international authorities have closed in on the group of terrorists responsible for planning the terrorist attack in Istanbul. Turkish police detained 11 foreigners suspected of being part of an ISIS cell that planned the attack, the Guardian reported.
Authorities also identified the man they believe to be the mastermind of the attack, a Chechen named Akhmed Chatayev.
“Chatayev is identified on a United Nations sanctions list as a leader in Isis responsible for training Russian-speaking militants. He was arrested in Bulgaria five years ago on a Russian extradition request but freed because he had refugee status in Austria, a Bulgarian judge said. A year later he was wounded and captured in Georgia but again released.”
If the ISIS threat to carry out a terrorist attack in the United States over the Fourth of July weekend is legitimate, it would come at a time when security is at its highest. Officials said they normally beef up security at airports and other major travel hubs during holiday weekends, and even more so in the wake of the Istanbul attack and the shooting in Dhaka.
[Photo by Gregory Bull/AP Images]