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Tags: domestic | threat | terror | attacks | cities | isis

Cities Step Up Security Amid July 4 Terrorist Threats

By    |   Friday, 03 July 2015 07:44 PM EDT

Governors and law-enforcement officials across the nation Friday ordered heightened security over the July Fourth weekend after the federal government called for greater vigilance against attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups.

"We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after directing such measures across the Empire State. "In response to the warning by the federal government, New York State is taking steps to increase monitoring and communication with our local, state, and federal emergency management and law enforcement partners through the holiday weekend."

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the FBI have issued alerts calling for local authorities and the public to remain vigilant for possible threats after ISIS terrorists have urged attacks around the country throughout the weekend.

The move followed terror attacks last week in Tunisia, Kuwait and France in which dozens of people were killed. In Tunisia, 38 were killed and 36 were wounded — and the French attack was on a U.S.-owned gas company, American Products Co.
In addition, July Fourth falls this year during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

ISIS believes "that during the holy month of Ramadan, greater jihad or jihad against the infidels would be highly rewarded," said Laith Alkhouri, an NBC News security analyst.

While U.S. officials cautioned that no specific terror threat existed, many expressed concern over "lone wolf" attacks by radicalized supporters and an emphasis on so-called "soft targets" — large public gatherings or shopping malls or other such places with fairly light security.

"Obviously, a lone wolf is our worst nightmare, but we have nothing to indicate we have any of that going on," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters on Friday, according to NBC.

California Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also emphasized the importance of looking for ISIS supporters zeroing in on individual events.

"What they are requesting, the supporters of this ISIS organization, is to take things into their own hands," the 11-term Republican told CNN. "Those are the words they use — to act now, and … they're trying to keep the focus on police departments or on military personnel in the United States."

If anything, the assaults likely to come via ISIS this weekend will be "pinpricks, smaller attacks," he said.

"They've been successful so far in carrying out and inspiring these types of attacks," Royce added. "But so far, the FBI has been able to prevent it.

"I would say that it's at a much lower level, and so far we've been able to preclude such an attack."

The chairman also commended the FBI for arresting 49 ISIS recruits around the nation "who have intended to carry out attacks, and they have put those attacks down so far.

"Our Federal Bureau of Investigation has done a very commendable job to date in terms of moving in quickly and taking individuals into custody who have been online showing an intention of carrying out an attack," Royce said.

No specific threat exists in California either, the congressman said, but "a lot of focus on what can be done by law enforcement to be prepared, and in the way of surveillance, a great deal is being done."

In Los Angeles, Police Commander Andrew Smith said that authorities would be on high alert at the several dozen fireworks shows planned throughout the region.

"Every LAPD officer out there this holiday, in addition to worrying about drunk drivers, illegal fireworks and other crimes, has to be vigilant," Smith told NBC.

In response to Cuomo's directive, New York City, which has the nation's the nation's largest municipal police force, assigned about 7,000 officers and nearly all its counterterrorism personnel to handle security around Independence Day events.

The governor also expanded the increased security measures to include the entire state in a directive to the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

The state's homeland security department also will increase the staff on Saturday at its 24-hour Emergency Operations Center and the New York State Watch Center, which monitors events throughout the state.

In Boston, the Massachusetts State Police said that uniformed troops, tactical units, and helicopters would be on patrol, along with undercover officers and security cameras.

The region's biggest event is Saturday's is fireworks and concert by the Boston Pops on the Charles River esplanade.

Unmanned aircraft are barred from flying near the site on Friday and Saturday.

In Washington, authorities have stepped up security after Thursday's scare at the Navy Yard military base, where 12 people were killed by a gunman in September 2013.

Thursday's incident triggered a massive security response.

For fireworks and other festivities on the National Mall, nine security checkpoints will be screening tens of thousands of visitors. Coolers, backpacks and packages are subject to inspection, and about 18,000 feet of chain-link fencing will be installed, the National Park Service said.

In San Francisco, while drought conditions have reduced the number of fireworks shows this year, police plan to have extra officers on duty and are encouraging citizens to report anything suspicious.

"Officers can't be everywhere at once," police spokeswoman Albie Esparza told NBC. "We depend on our public to be our eyes and ears to report any suspicious activity."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Governors and law-enforcement officials across the nation Friday ordered heightened security over the July Fourth weekend after the federal government called for greater vigilance against attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups.
domestic, threat, terror, attacks, cities, isis
Friday, 03 July 2015 07:44 PM
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