Homeland Security warns of potential terror threats during Fourth of July
As our nation's capital gets ready for its massive Fourth of July celebration, there are new warnings about a possible terror attack centered on Independence Day. The warning comes as thousands of people are expected to be on the National Mall this weekend.
The FBI, Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center are all warning local law enforcement about a heightened concern involving possible terror attacks targeting the July 4th holiday. U.S. Park Police officials say they received the bulletin.
"We always take great care, we are constantly monitoring the updated security situation and we have a very robust security plan," said Lt. Alan Griffith of the U.S. Park Police.
National security analysts say the warning is different and serious this year because of ISIS. They point to U.S.-based extremists who just this year launched attacks in Boston and Dallas and an arrest of a Virginia teenager for helping a friend join ISIS.
"The reason why we should be concerned is the number of Americans that are joining groups like ISIS and al-Nusra have jumped up," said Seamus Hughes of George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
Police will be out in force during the holiday with security checkpoints to enter the National Mall. But many visitors said if a worst case scenario hit, they were not sure how they would get out.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she received a briefing on the preparations for the holiday, but stressed there is currently no specific information that Washington's Independence Day events are being targeted.
"As it relates to any information about terror threats, from time to time I'm briefed about that, but we have no reason to believe that there are any specific threats against the District," said Mayor Bowser.
Still, officials said they are prepared in ways that are seen and unseen.
However, crowds are going to be cut down on the National Mall itself because the area between 7th Street and 15th Street is closed due to a grass restoration project and will limit where people can stand.
The U.S. Park Police is urging people to subscribe to the text alert system on their website to received real time information in the event of an emergency.