The Homeland Security secretary said that while there is no “specific, credible piece of intel about a plot of the Belgian type here in the United States, we continue to be very concerned about terrorist-inspired acts that could be carried out here in the homeland.”
DHS leader Jeh Johnson told MSNBC today that the administration is “continually concerned about foreign terrorist travel, and we continue to focus on those things.”
“We know from their public calls and from social media and the Internet that ISIL has made efforts and called for attacks here in the homeland,” he said. “And that’s — that’s one of the things we’re focused on right now. Terrorist-inspired attacks are part of the new era that we’re in right now.”
President Obama convened a meeting of “key members of his counterterrorism and homeland security team,” according to the White House, on Monday.
“The President was briefed that there is currently no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in the United States,” the press secretary’s office said in a readout of the meeting. “The President’s team also updated him on recent expanded information-sharing with international partners and ways that the United States is working to disrupt and counter external plots emanating from ISIL-controlled territory.”
“Additionally, the President received briefings on ongoing efforts to address ISIL’s use of the Internet to recruit followers, incite them to violence, and mobilize them to engage in attacks in the United States and abroad.”
The White House said Obama “directed his team to continue to intensify efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL and to ensure that the United States is doing everything possible to disrupt any ISIL external plotting efforts, including by continuing our strong leadership in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.”
Obama told the nation that there was no specific, credible threat against the homeland before and after the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terrorist attack — in statements reassuring Thanksgiving and Christmas travelers.
Johnson said today that “San Bernardino, Chattanooga, the attempt in Garland City, Texas, last year, reflect this new era that we’re in.”
“The FBI has made a number of arrests of those who have been inspired by ISIL’s calls, by al-Qaida’s calls, and that’s what we’re focused on right now in addition to the traditional concerns about aviation,” he said.
The DHS secretary urged Americans to “continue to go to public events, public gatherings, enjoy holidays, freedom to travel, freedom to associate, celebrate our immigrant heritage, but be vigilant and be aware and know that a lot of homeland security and law enforcement officials are working overtime to address the existing threats.”
“I think we have to be concerned about the Islamic State’s active efforts to recruit and inspire people here in the homeland, and so our efforts to build bridges to Muslim communities is as important as any other homeland security imperative,” Johnson added.