‘Heightened threat’ alert for domestic terrorism ahead of 9/11 anniversary

WASHINGTON — Federal leaders are on alert for increased threats of terrorism here at home.

This month, the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a warning about heightened threat levels leading up to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Federal authorities are pointing to incidents like Thursday’s bomb threat near the Library of Congress.

US Capitol Police investigators say bomb threat suspect Floyd Ray Roseberry was acting alone when he threatened to have explosives in this pickup truck.

But in a Facebook live video, Roseberry said there were others like him.

“We’ve seen an increasing drumbeat of conspiracy theories in the United States, some funneled by nations like Russia and China who are trying to stoke those disputes here in the United States,” said Jamil N. Jaffer, who teaches classes on counterterrorism, intelligence, surveillance and cybersecurity at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

Jaffer is also the founder and executive director of the National Security Institute on campus. He said domestic extremists are getting bolder, often using social media to motivate others to act.

He said the real challenge is watching how people respond to those posts.

“How do they act on it? How do they respond to it? If Americans reject this kind of behavior, reject this kind of stuff on social media and they hold them accountable, we’ll see some of this stuff go away,” he said.

The Department of Homeland issued this new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin about”heightened threat environment” across the United States.

“DHS remains committed to sharing timely information with the public about the heightened threat environment in order to protect communities across our country,” said Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas in a written statement.  “Today’s NTAS Bulletin advises the public about the heightened threat landscape we face and how DHS is working with our partners, at every level of government and in the community, to combat domestic terrorism and targeted violence in all its forms.  We are committed to ensuring every initiative undertaken by DHS in response to the threat is consistent with privacy protections, civil rights and civil liberties, First Amendment-protected rights, and other applicable laws.”

Jaffer said the international terror threat changed overnight as Afghanistan fell to Taliban control.

“It’s critical for the President’s national security team to really keep up that fight against the terrorists and if they need to go back into Afghanistan or anywhere else, they need to do that if it keeps Americans safe,” said Jaffer.

DHS is also on alert for people who are inspired by foreign terrorists.