The federal government has issued a warning about the possibility of domestic terrorism on July 4, warning law enforcement officials and ordinary Americans to be vigilant about the possibility of terrorism on Independence Day, Yahoo News reports. However, it bears noting that no specific threats are known.
“The FBI, DHS, and NCTC remain concerned that [domestic terrorists] could target upcoming Independence Day celebrations, gatherings, or parades, though we are unaware of any current plots specifically targeting such events,” the notice reads. It goes on to say that Fourth of July festivities are attractive targets for terrorists because of large crowds and lower levels of security around civilian targets.
Federal officials usually issue such vague warnings of possible terrorism around major holidays where large crowds will be out and about, such as New Year’s Eve. However, the July 4 warning includes a factor that isn’t usually included in terrorism warnings: domestic terrorism.
Concerns About Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists
Traditionally, terrorism warnings have focused on homegrown terrorists — that is, terrorists who believe in the extremist ideologies like those of ISIS, but who don’t have any direct ties to any terrorist organization. Such “lone wolf” terrorist attacks are carried out by people who aren’t acting on orders or with support from the larger organizations but do so in their name.
— Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (@JointBasePHH) June 30, 2019
However, in recent years, the threat of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other far-right organizations has become considerably more severe. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, reports that crimes and terrorist acts fueled by hate have been on the increase in the past couple of years. Similarly, more hate groups are emerging, and existing hate groups are seeing larger numbers.
Similarly, PBS noted in April that domestic terrorism driven by far-right ideology is on the rise.
The new alert also warned of the potential dangers of so-called “soft targets.” In law enforcement, a “soft target” refers to something that is not heavily-guarded. So a military base, for example, would not be considered a soft target, whereas a crowd of people in a city park, watching fireworks, would.
Further, the bulletin warns that potential terrorist attacks could be carried out in the simplest of ways, including driving a car into a crowd, opening fire in a crowded space, or randomly attacking people with knives.
In addition to calls to be vigilant about domestic terrorism, the bulletin also noted that ISIS has recently renewed calls for “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the U.S.