Nicholas Rasmussen, Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCC), said the Islamic State (ISIS) may be losing ground in Iraq and Syria but its ability to strike abroad, including in the U.S., has not thus far been significantly diminished.
The Washington Times reported that Rasmussen made his assessment as the Department of Homeland Security issued a confidential warning. U.S.-based terrorists, linked to the Islamic State are likely focused on mass killings at festivals, concerts, sporting events and other outdoor events.
The Sept. 23 warning was released shortly after the string of bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey for which an Afghan-born Muslim, Ahmad Khan Rahami, was apprehended in a gunfight with police. The assessments were based on a confidential report obtained by The Washington Times.
The Islamic State has urged Muslims on social media to use vehicles to achieve mass killings, as was carried out in July in Nice, France, by a follower of the group.
The report stated that the Homeland Security Department’s office of intelligence and analysis “assesses that commercial facilities — such as festivals, concerts, outdoor events, and other mass gatherings — remain a potential target for terrorists or homegrown violent extremists, as they often pursue simple, achievable attacks with an emphasis on economic impact and mass casualties.
“While we’ve seen a decrease in the frequency of large-scale, complex plotting efforts that sometimes span months or years. We’re instead seeing much more rapidly evolving threats, or plot vectors, that emerge quickly or suddenly, “said Rasmussen. “And this so-called flash-to-bang ratio; the time between when an individual decides to attack and when an attack actually occurs, the flash-to-bang ratio of this kind of plotting is extremely compressed and allows very little time for law enforcement and intelligence officials to get their arms around a plot.”
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