An alleged Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) plot to attack WWE’s annual event Sunday at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta failed to deter more than 14,000 people from attending the sold-out “Survivor Series” show, which carried on without any major incidents.
On Saturday, the hacktivist group Anonymous claimed it had uncovered information about ISIS plans to attack Paris, Indonesia, Italy, Lebanon, and the U.S. on Sunday, prompting federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to increase security at the WWE event.
“Anonymous also said the Islamic State group is planning an assault at the WWE Survivor Series event scheduled to take place in the Philips Arena in Atlanta Sunday at 7:30 p.m. EST, as well as attacks at multiple events in Paris,” reported the International Business Times (IBTimes).
Despite the alleged threat, WWE continued on with its “Survivor Series” event, as attendees endured long lines and enhanced security at the sold-out show.
The threat did not stop more than 14,000 people from attending the pay-per-view event at the Phillips Arena.
“In the face of uncertainty, 14,481 strong (and LOUD) showed up to #SurvivorsSeries..that’s what makes the @WWE Universe the absolute best,” WWE wrestler and Executive Vice President Paul “Triple H” Levesque wrote on Twitter after the event on Sunday.
— Triple H (@TripleH) November 23, 2015
“#ThankYou to the local and national authorities for ensuring everyone’s safety tonight @PhilipsArena,” he added.
— Triple H (@TripleH) November 23, 2015
The FBI said it was taking the ISIS threat seriously.
In a statement to Atlanta’s Channel 2 Action News, the agency said, “The FBI is aware of reports of an alleged threat that includes an Atlanta, Georgia venue and event. While we take all threats seriously, we do not have specific or credible information of an attack at this time. We have, however, made the proper notifications as we continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to keep our community safe.”
Prior to the event, the WWE, Atlanta Hawks, and Phillips Arena released a joint statement in response to the rumors.
“Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities have confirmed there is no specific or credible information involving a threat against tomorrow’s WWE Survivor Series at Philips Arena,” noted the statement. “However, WWE and Philips Arena have coordinated with the appropriate agencies and law enforcement, and significantly increased security measures to ensure the safety of all those in attendance, which is our highest priority.”
“Doors will open at 6 p.m. to help fans avoid any delays in entering the arena due to the additional precautionary security procedures put in place,” it added. “Fans are encouraged to take public transportation (MARTA) to the event and are advised that bags will not be permitted in the arena.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed ordered the city’s Joint Operations Center to be opened out of an abundance of caution, reports Channel 2 Action News.
“Although the FBI has not found any credible threats relating to any events in the city, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) is actively monitoring the situation and is coordinating closely with our federal and state partners,” said the mayor in a statement. “Over the past week, the City of Atlanta has increased security for all operations, including at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Atlanta Streetcar and for major public events. As always, APD stands ready to act in the case of an emergency.”
“There are several events in our city tonight, including the WWE Survivor Series, the Atlanta Falcons game, and the Macy’s Great Tree Lighting. If you see or hear something suspicious, please call 911 immediately,” he added. “In this holiday season and at all times, I encourage our residents and visitors to enjoy our city and not let fear guide you. Public safety remains my number one priority, and I am confident in our law enforcement agencies’ ability to keep us safe.”
Jim Butterworth, director of the Georgia Emergency Management, told Channel 2 that his agency was coordinating with the FBI, the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and others in evaluating the ISIS threat against the WWE event.
“In response to recent world events, fans may notice enhanced security, including increased law enforcement presence around the GWCCA campus on Sunday. While numerous processes are in place for fan safety we cannot discuss the specifics,” said the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA), in a statement.