Feds warn of possible domestic terror attack on July 4th
Federal authorities are warning that political radicals may attack people celebrating on July 4th.
A bulletin to law enforcement around the country states that domestic terrorists “have attacked perceived oppressors, opponents, or enemies engaged in outdoor First Amendment-protected rallies or protests during past summers.”
The warning comes from a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, telling law enforcement to remain vigilant for suspicious activity.
“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,” says the bulletin, obtained by ABC News. “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.”
Both “domestic” and “homegrown” terrorists “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.”
The bulletin also warns that ISIS has renewed calls for sympathizers to launch attacks inside the United States.
The FBI is currently tracking about 1,000 suspected “homegrown” terrorists inside the United States inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, a senior FBI official recently testified to Congress.
The official also said the FBI currently investigating about 850 suspected “domestic” terrorists. Officials told ABC News the agency has seen a large increase in domestic terrorism investigations involving white supremacists since last year.
“In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” the head of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity, recently told a House panel.
The bulletin issued Wednesday ahead of the July 4th holiday mentioned the case of James Fields, who in 2017 drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman and injuring scores of others.
Wednesday’s bulletin emphasized: “The FBI, DHS, and NCTC are not aware of any specific, credible threats surrounding the upcoming Independence Day holiday, but note that previous attacks in the Homeland have happened with little to no warning.”
Asked about the new bulletin, an FBI spokeswoman said in a statement, “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.”