Al-Qaeda may be planning terrorist attacks in three states on Monday, unidentified intelligence sources have told CBS News. Still, as of this writing, no specific threats have been made known.
The unnamed sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that New York, Texas, and Virginia are “potential targets.”
However, CBS News notes that threats of terrorist activity always increase around holidays and other big events, and Tuesday is Election Day. In fact, law enforcement authorities have already expressed concern that polling places could make attractive targets for terrorists, due to the crowds of unarmed people — in some cases voting in schools.
Specifically, officials are concerned about so-called “lone wolf” terrorist attacks at poling places on Election Day. A “Lone Wolf” terrorist attack is carried out by a radicalized individual who plans and carries out his attack without any support (money, logistics) from a known terrorist organization, such as ISIS or al-Qaeda, but does so in their name. For example, Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who carried out the Pulse Night Club shooting, is described by PBS News as a “lone wolf terrorist.”
An unnamed intelligence official told CBS News that “lone wolf terrorists” are the big concern these days.
“As we have long said, in this environment, homegrown violent extremists could strike with little or no notice. Our concern that violent extremists could be inspired to conduct attacks inside the U.S. have not diminished.”
“Lone wolves” are more difficult for intelligence authorities to identify and monitor, since they act on their own and generally aren’t brought to the attention of authorities until it’s too late.
As for al-Qaeda: you haven’t heard much from them lately, largely because they’ve been eclipsed by their bigger, better-funded, and more brutal cousins, ISIS. But just because their once-leader Osama bin Laden has been killed, and just because they’ve now taken a back seat to other terrorist organizations, they haven’t gone away. Though the terrorist organization’s efforts remain largely focused on targets in Iraq, they have continued to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide, most recently in Algeria in 2013, as CNN reported at the time.
— James Fallon (@elFallon) September 3, 2014
Looking toward Monday, already the New York Police Department appears to be taking the threat of terrorism next week seriously. The nation’s largest police force is working with intelligence agencies and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to try to identify and neutralize any threats.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement, via RT, urging Texans to carry on as usual and to not let unspecified terrorist threats disrupt their lives.
“My office is working with law enforcement officials and we are continuing to monitor the situation in close coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity to state of local law enforcement. The State of Texas will continue to do everything it can to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.”
Abbot’s directive to Texans — to go about their daily lives as usual, while still keeping an eye out for suspicious activity — mirrors that advice given by CBS News’ unnamed source to Americans nationwide. He or she also warns Americans to expect a stronger police presence in the coming days.
“The public should expect to continue to observe an increased law enforcement and security presence across communities in public places. Our law enforcement community also continues to take action against those who attempt to engage in activities that could put Americans at risk.”
[Featured Image by Mikko Lemola/Shutterstock]