Worried about the growing threat from the Islamic State, the Obama administration has dramatically stepped up warnings of potential terrorist attacks on American soil after several years of relative calm, the Los Angeles Times reports. Behind the scenes, U.S. authorities have raised defenses at U.S. military bases, put local police forces on alert, and increased surveillance at airports, railroads, shopping malls, energy plants and other potential targets. Driving the unease are FBI arrests of at least 30 Americans on terrorism-related charges this year in an array of “lone wolf” plots, none successful, but nearly all purportedly inspired by Islamic State propaganda or appeals. The group’s leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, drove home the danger in a 34-minute audio recording released online last week. He urged Muslims everywhere to “migrate to the Islamic State or fight in his land, wherever that may be.” The audio was released with translations in English, French, German, Russian and Turkish.
“It is pretty easy for [the Islamic State] to reach out to a very large number of people using a very robust social media presence. I suspect we should see more plots going forward, said J.M. Berger, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. In Texas recently, two would-be terrorists apparently prompted by Islamic State social media messages tried to shoot their way into a provocative contest for caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. Both gunmen were shot to death. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault, the first time it has done so for an attack on U.S. soil. FBI director James Comey warned this month that “hundreds, maybe thousands” of Americans are seeing recruitment pitches from Islamic State on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, as well as messages sent to smartphones of “disturbed people” who could be pushed to attack U.S. targets. “It’s like the devil sitting on their shoulders saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill,'” he said.