The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced enhanced security measures at federal buildings on Tuesday, one week after a terrorist attack on a government building in Canada.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson said the stepped up security measures are in response to “continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere.” Secretary Johnson said Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers are providing the increased security. The Federal Protective Service protects more than 9,500 federal facilities across the nation where approximately 1.4 million people visit per day.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ordered increased security at field offices across the nation following a terrorist attack last Wednesday on the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. A Canadian soldier shot during the attack on the National War Memorial died. The gunman, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Muslim convert left a video in which he discussed Canada’s foreign policy and his Muslim religious beliefs
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have issued several joint bulletins in recent weeks warning local and state law enforcement agencies and even members of the media of potential attacks by homegrown terrorists and “lone wolves” inspired by ISIS. International and national security experts have repeatedly warned that sleeper cells may already be in the country and plotting attacks. The security measures are not in response to any specific threat, but rather “out of the abundance of caution.”
On September 18, U.S. officials warned that members of a well organized terrorist group known as Khorasan, a cell of the al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front in Syria was developing fresh plots to target U.S. aviation, and focusing its efforts on recruiting Westerners who have joined the fight in Syria. Both ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorist groups are considered Syrian extremist militant groups, however, ISIS is now considered the enemy of al-Qaeda and its affiliates. U.S. officials consider Khorasan to be a larger threat to the homeland than ISIS.
After the September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. soil, the 9/11 Commission estimated that approximately eighty-five percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is privately owned and privately patrolled–everything from nuclear power plants to shopping malls and stadiums. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s role is limited to suggestions and incentives – except in special events such as the Super Bowl. Unarmed, poorly trained and poorly paid security guards are the first line of defense at the overwhelming majority of U.S. venues.