DHS, FBI: Terrorists Looking to Strike Thanksgiving Parades, Black Friday

The Ronald McDonald balloon makes its way across Sixth Avenue as heavily armed police stand guard during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

The U.S. federal government, in an alert to local law enforcement, warned that Thanksgiving parades and holiday shoppers may be targeted by “international terrorists or homegrown violent extremists,” a week after an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) magazine cited New York City’s famed Thanksgiving Day Parade as “an excellent target.”

Moreover, the warning comes a day after authorities in Brooklyn apprehended 37-year-old Mohamed Rafik Naji, an ISIS-linked legal U.S. permanent resident from Yemen, and accused him of planning to run people over with a garbage truck in Times Square.

The FBI has also identified shopping malls, special events, and crowded venues in Washington D.C. and Virginia as “target-rich zones,” noting that potential tactics that could be used include guns, homemade bombs, also known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or drones equipped with IEDs.

In a bulletin to local law enforcement issued Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI, a component of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the two federal entities expressed concern about the upcoming holiday season.

“Holiday celebrations, beginning with Thanksgiving and the start of the shopping season… could be targeted by international terrorists or homegrown violent extremists. Detecting violent extremists, especially lone offenders, raises our concern that attacks could occur with little to no warning,” noted the bulletin, according to ABC 7 in Chicago.

Last week, the ISIS propaganda magazine Rumiyah highlighted how effective a vehicle attack like the one that occurred in Nice, France, in July could be in inflicting a large number of casualties.

An ISIS-linked truck driver drove through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 pedestrians and injuring 400 others, including many children.

Citing the Nice attack, the ISIS magazine encouraged jihadists to rent a heavy truck and target large outdoor gatherings “to ensure utmost carnage up on the enemies of Allah.”

Although the ISIS publication did not mention any specific target, it did include images from the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

The caption under the photo of the parade read “An excellent target.”

DHS determined that “implies” a desire by ISIS to attack high-profile holiday events in the United States, Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge has learned.

Earlier this month, DHS’s National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) issued its latest alert, saying,

DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places. The holiday season, in particular, provides additional opportunities for violent extremists to target public events and places where people congregate.

Though we know of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland, the reality is terrorist-inspired individuals have conducted, or attempted to conduct, attacks in the United States.

The NTAS bulletin, issued November 15, noted that the DHS and the FBI are collaborating with the private sector as well as state, local, and tribal partners to deal with the current threat environment.

Ahead of the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Black Friday shopping, the New York Police Department (NYPD) expressed concern about the ISIS magazine and has stepped up security as a result.

In response to the deadly Nice attack and the recent ISIS threat, the NYPD has added a new layer of security this year’s annual parade by placing heavy sand trucks at cross streets along the parade to protect from any attack involving vehicles.

“I think this year you are going to see a lot more blocker cars and sand trucks on the cross streets,” revealed New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“The Nice attack was an indicator of something we had to make adjustments because of,” added New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “That’s why the sand trucks are there. And you will not see vehicles crossing the route of the parade.”

“Law enforcement officials said they have no specific, credible threats to the parade,” notes CNN.

Nevertheless, Breitbart News national security editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, has warned that the threat of ISIS-linked attacks in the United States on Thanksgiving Day is real.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of DHS, has also beefed up security at airports and train stations across the U.S. for this year’s Thanksgiving travel.


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