Federal authorities, in the days leading to Independence Day, warned of potential, not specific, attacks against revelers at the hands of “homegrown terrorists,” referring to those inspired by overseas jihadi groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda, according to an intelligence bulletin issued to law enforcement.
The warning came as ISIS threatened to target the celebrations marking the birth of the United States in the nation’s capital and New York.
ABC News obtained the bulletin, jointly issued by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on June 26.
The news outlet noted that federal authorities also cautioned law enforcement officers about possible attacks by “domestic” terrorists, reportedly referring to white supremacists and other political radicals.
Consistent with the bulletin, a spokesperson for the FBI acknowledged to Breitbart News that the agency is not aware of any specific, credible threats surrounding Independence Day.
In a statement, the spokesperson said:
The FBI currently has no credible and specific information to indicate attacks are being planned against July 4th events. The FBI regularly assesses intelligence regarding possible threats to the U.S. and will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners should there be any potential threat to public safety.
We ask members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.
The bulletin reportedly urged law enforcement to remain vigilant for suspicious activity.
In the document, federal authorities acknowledged that “ISIS has recently renewed calls for sympathizers to launch their own attacks inside the United States,” ABC News noted.
Currently, federal officers are reportedly tracking an estimated 1,000 suspected “homegrown” jihadis in the United States linked to ISIS and its rival al-Qaeda, the FBI said in October 2018.
On Tuesday, the Homeland Security Today (HST) outlet reported that ISIS threats ahead of July 4 depict attacks on New York and the White House.
ISIS supporters have featured New York and Washington in threat propaganda leading up to the Fourth of July — which is not just our Independence Day, but a key caliphate anniversary — that has also included aviation threats.
[One] image from al-Irbaad Media Foundation shows a U.S. soldier fleeing down a New York street away from the Manhattan Bridge. Al-Irbaad was founded in December, calling on the “knights of media and the lions of information, graphic designers, producers, and writer alike” to join and “intensify their efforts” to wage war from “both a military and a media point of view.”
An earlier image distributed in mid-June depicted a jihadist with a bag in his hand and RPG perched on his shoulder standing in front of a burning White House. [Non-official ISIS media channel] Maqdisi also disseminated an image depicting President [Donald] Trump kneeling in an orange jumpsuit in front of a masked jihadist, vowing “we will spare no effort in terrorizing your masses.
For ISIS, July 4 marks the fifth anniversary of the day when leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph and rallied support for the group’s Islamic state.
Although U.S.-backed local troops completely annihilated ISIS’s territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the jihadi organization remains a prominent threat, American intelligence and military officials have said.
In a caption on the image depicting attacks in New York, ISIS reportedly declared:
Know O Crusader infidel that you — Allah willing — will soon be pursued in your own homeland. You will be pursued in the streets and in the alleyways and you will burn by the flames of the IEDs [improvised explosive devices]; only this time you will be feeling the pain of what you have inflicted for decades upon the Muslims, of killing, burning, destruction, and displacement in refugee camps. What is coming will — Allah willing — be directed at you, and in your own homeland. So be on the lookout until then.
Federal authorities expressed concerns about both “homegrown” and “domestic” terrorists attacking Fourth of July revelers.
Referring to both threats, the bulletin reportedly cautioned:
The FBI, DHS, and NCTC remain concerned that [they] could target upcoming Independence Day celebrations, gatherings, or parades, though we are unaware of any current plots specifically targeting such events. We note that attacks can occur with little to no warning because of the frequently lower levels of security around civilian targets, challenges in securing large crowds, and calls for attacks against soft targets.
“Domestic” and “homegrown” terrorists would “likely would use simplistic tactics and relatively easily obtainable weapons such as firearms, knives, and vehicles—although some violent extremists have historically sought to use explosive devices,” it added.
FBI officers are also investigating about 850 suspected “domestic” terrorists, a top official in the agency told lawmakers in May, noting that there has been an uptick in white supremacist-related activity.
“In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” Michael McGarrity, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, declared.