A threat of a possible ISIS attack on US soil has put put police on high alert after a law enforcement alert warned that the international terrorist group could strike malls and shopping centers in Northern Virginia.
On Thursday ‘we received information concerning potential public safety impacts to malls and shopping centers across the region,’ Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
Davis did not mention what type of warning they received from ISIS beyond calling it ‘information that we have that we’re simply acting on’.
However, CBS News reported the threat originated with ISIS and is the basis for the alert.
Police cruisers were seen on Friday patrolling the area around Fair Oaks Mall, which is located 20miles outside of Washington, DC.
‘Sometimes the information we receive is not with great specificity but we have to respond to it nonetheless,’ Davis explained.
Police in Northern Virginia have been warned of a potential threat at malls and shopping centers and said that the treat came from the international terrorist group ISIS, according to Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis (pictured)
‘We have increased our police presence throughout the county to include major thoroughfares, transit hubs, shopping plazas and shopping malls,’ he said, adding: ‘It’s just our responsibility to have a greater presence, to be more aware and to ask the community to have their eyes and ears peeled for suspicious activities.’
He said that the increased law enforcement presence will be in place ‘where people gather’ throughout Halloween weekend and into Tuesday, which is when Virginia’s gubernatorial election is taking place.
On Election Day, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe battles surging GOP opponent Glenn Youngkin, who is reportedly more likely to win if voter turnout is low at the election next week.
However, Davis also noted that ‘we routinely do this,’ assuring that ‘this is not necessarily out of the ordinary for us to ramp up a police presence during a holiday weekend’.
‘We have increased our police presence throughout the county to include major thoroughfares, transit hubs, shopping plazas and shopping malls,’ Davis said at a press conference on Friday
Increased law enforcement will continue through Halloween weekend and into Election Day on Tuesday, which Davis assured isn’t out of the ordinary for a holiday weekend
Officers were already patrolling the area around Fair Oaks Mall (pictured), which is located 20miles outside of Washington, DC
According to CBS News , the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence chief John Cohen said earlier this week that since America’s bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30, the terrorist group wants individuals to act on their own in what they call lone-wolf attacks.
‘Right now we’re seeing a dramatic increase – or an increase – in online activity by media operations associated with different al Qaeda elements and Islamic State,’ Cohen said.
The Arlington County Police Department and the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office said they were not aware of any specific threats in their areas but they still encouraged people to be vigilant.
The worrisome announcement comes the same week as US intelligence agencies said they believe the Islamic State in Afghanistan could develop the capability to attack the United States in as little as six months, a senior Pentagon official told senators on Tuesday.
The Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence chief John Cohen (pictured) said earlier this week that since America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30 the terrorist group wants individuals to act on their own in what they call lone-wolf attacks
On Tuesday US intelligence agencies said they believe the Islamic State in Afghanistan could develop the capability to attack the United States in as little as six months. The worrisome announcement comes after American troops’ abrupt exit from Afghanistan on August 30
The stark warning is just the latest reminder of the danger that remains after American troops abruptly left the country at the end of August and the Taliban retook control.
Colin Kahl, the principal adviser to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, said the US must remain vigilant against the threat from Al Qaeda and from the Islamic State’s Afghanistan offshoot known as ISIS-K.
‘I think the intelligence community currently assesses that both ISIS-K and Al Qaeda have the intent to conduct external operations, including against the United States, but neither currently has the capability to do so,’ the Under Secretary of Defense told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
‘We could see ISIS-K generate that capability in somewhere between six or 12 months. I think the current assessments by the intelligence community as Al Qaeda would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability,’ Kahl added.
Kahl’s comments echoed those of Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who offered a similar six-month time frame recently.
His words were expected to trigger fresh criticism of the rapid end of America’s 20-year war – an end that incited chaotic scenes at Kabul airport and resulted in the deaths of 13 US personnel in an ISIS-K suicide attack.
In response Biden has promised an ‘over-the-horizon’ counterterrorism capability, using drone strikes to limit terrorist threats to the US.
Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl (pictured) said the US must remain vigilant against the threat from Al Qaeda and from the Islamic State’s Afghanistan offshoot known as ISIS-K