Americans lost their innocence when it comes to terrorism on 9/11, but the attacks on U.S. soil that have happened since have been small, isolated incidents by the lone-wolf types, with the exception of the Boston bombings. The lack of large-scale coordinated attacks like those on 9/11 is a testament to our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but as the number of terrorist threats against the West continues to grow, so grows the likelihood of a successful attack on U.S. soil.
On the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, terrorist organizations seek to capitalize on the fear caused by the high profile murders. The FBI has just issued a bulletin to all law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to be on high alert because of a video that was released by ISIS calling for followers to “rise up and kill intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers, and civilians” in the U.S., France, Australia, and Canada.
French police are also on heightened alert, and CNN has reported sources saying that terrorist sleeper cells have been activated in that country. In a separate report Sen. Diane Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN that she believes there are sleeper cells operating here in the U.S. and other countries. Morten Storm, a former Al Qaeda member turned informant told Fox News that sleeper cells are in position and ready to carry out new attacks. “Deception is their warfare,” Storm said. “One of the things that these groups believe in is that you are allowed to trick someone into believing that you stand for something else when you really have other agendas. They will act as normal members of western society.”
Although terror organizations continue to change tactics in response to counter-terrorism efforts, they have not given up on targeting air travel. At least six flights originating in Europe with destinations in the U.S. have been cancelled due to security threats. According to U.S. government officials, the decision to cancel specific flights was made jointly by the U.S., British, and French governments based on intelligence picked up that mentioned those flights. The Department of Homeland Security has not raised the terror threat level, which is currently at yellow, which is at the mid-point of the five color scale.
A new Rasmussen Report shows that 65% of adult Americans believe an attack on the U.S. this year is at least somewhat likely, with 29% saying that an attack is very likely. We are living in dangerous times. While it would be a mistake to allow these threats to interfere with daily life, we must be aware that the nature of the threats we face has changed and that the need for heightened awareness is not limited to law enforcement agencies. Terrorist activity is no longer limited to airports and big cities. Sleeper cells are able to exist by blending in with the communities where they are located, and those communities are likely to be widely distributed around the country. While there is no reason to be alarmed at this point, there is certainly reason for everyone to be on alert.