Some in U.S. special operations and other military branches have told ABC News they deactivated, scrubbed or locked Facebook and other personal social media accounts months ago at the urging of security officers as the U.S. began bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria last August. But the government on Sunday night indicated they had obtained fresh intelligence that ISIS wants to recruit or inspire sympathizers inside America to hurt military members where they live.
"The FBI recently received reporting indicating individuals overseas are spotting and assessing like-minded individuals who are willing and capable of conducting attacks against current and former U.S.-based members of the United States military," the bulletin said. Attacks such as those in Canada -- which apparently were carried out without direct contact between ISIS and the perpetrators -- may "embolden" and "motivate" those who support ISIS, the FBI and DHS said.
The report does not specify or suggest rogue ISIS fighters in the Middle East will soon descend upon the U.S. and attack America’s heroes here at home. This would be highly unlikely. Instead, according to this newly acquired intelligence, ISIS propagandists are seeking to entice extremists already living here to carry out lone wolf attacks.
American service members, therefore, out of an abundance of caution, are being pressured by their government to temporarily shut down or completely do away with platforms online that could give away their identities.
Abroad, however, terrorist threats are looming just as large. The terrorist organization al-Qaeda is also reportedly planning to carry out murderous attacks this holiday season. As it happens, they intend to blow up nearly half a dozen passenger airliners somewhere in Europe, according to a scoop reported earlier today by the U.K. Sunday Press:
The threat has been taken so seriously it came close to leading to an outright ban on all hand luggage, a senior insider has revealed. Mobile phones and electronic devices could still be banned from plane cabins, with the threat of a 9/11-style coordinated attack on London and other major cities feared imminent.
The warning comes as Whitehall officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now "almost inevitable" particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An airport security source told the Sunday Express: "We've been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They've been waiting for the big one.
"We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real.”
On the one hand, during the holiday season, airport safety personnel and state governments are always on high alert and urging vigilance. This is quite common and to be expected. On the other, it’s particularly alarming just how many British-born jihadists could attempt to return to their country of origin and participate in these plots.
Hence why threats such as these aren't being taken -- or dismissed -- lightly.