Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Anything But Routine, Redux

Two days ago, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrell said there was "nothing routine" about warnings of possible ISIS attacks in the CONUS during the 4th of July weekend.

At the time, we noted it was quite unusual for a former intelligence official to be so blunt in his assessment.  Mr. Morrell (who made the observation on CBS This Morning) went on to say that he "wouldn't be surprised if we're sitting her a week from today talking about an ISIS attack in the United States over the [July 4th] weekend."

Now, we're beginning to see why Morrell offered such a dire prediction.  Shepard Smith of Fox News reported last night the FBI is establishing special command centers in 56 cities around the country, to prepare for possible terrorist attacks during the holiday period.

Not to be outdone, ISIS quickly posted a map, showing the locations of those command facilities.  Twitter and the blogosphere quickly exploded, with some wondering how the terror group could quickly access such sensitive information.  Turns out it wasn't so hard after all; the command centers are located at FBI field offices, except those in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  That information is readily available to anyone with internet access.

But there are more signs of mounting fears about a possible weekend attack.  A federal official told Gateway Pundit that FBI agents scheduled for vacations over July 4th have been told to cancel their plans, and report for duty.  The same source also reports that FBI agents are telling family and friends to avoid "official" holiday celebrations.  This mirrors earlier claims that ISIS may target large community gatherings on the 4th, hoping to inflict maximum casualties.

So far, there has been no official comment from the bureau.  But the establishment of multiple command centers (over a holiday weekend) and cancelling leave for field agents are highly unusual steps, and more indications that something is in the offing.

To be fair, this may be nothing more than a bluff by ISIS.  If they can keep more Americans at home on Independence Day, the group can claim a major propaganda victory.  On the other hand, ISIS is firmly committed to carrying out more attacks against our homeland, and they would gain even more publicity and support by mounting a successful strike on one of our most important national holidays.

In terms of preparation, creation of so many command centers may be nothing more than an abundance of caution.  Yet, it may also indicate that the feds are way behind the curve in battling this particular threat.  Put another way: the FBI may be establishing multiple command facilities because terror "chatter" and other indicators suggest an attack this weekend is all-but-certain.  But the feds don't have enough specific information to concentrate resources or make preemptive arrests.

And here's another possibility: ISIS is on the verge of a July 4th spectacular, striking multiple CONUS targets at roughly the same time.  That's another reason the FBI would see the need for so many command centers across the country.

If the feds are able to close the intelligence gap and get a better handle on potential attacks, we may see a series of preemptive raids beginning tomorrow and continuing into Friday.  If the raids don't materialize, that would suggest the threat has passed, or federal agencies still can't pinpoint possible targets.

Enjoy your 4th of July.           




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