According to FBI Director James Comey, ISIS terror plots set for the 4th of July were thwarted by the bureau. Although Comey didn’t specify the amount or the nature of the plots, he said they were intended “to kill people of the United States”. The plots reportedly reached nationwide and were unsophisticated in nature as knives, guns as well as other weapons were to be used, similar to many ISIS related plots. It is suspected that the encouragement for the attacks came from actors outside the United States. For the time being, very little information is being released about the precise details of the attacks.
Comey made the statement in Washington at the J. Edgar Hoover Building saying that people in the U.S. are being encouraged and instructed by members of ISIS to carry out attacks on U.S. soil. Comey stated more specifically, “Sometimes there is a suggestion from an ISIS fighter to do something specific." Interestingly enough, this form of terrorism that Comey is calling “crowdsourcing terrorism” is beginning on social media mediums such as Twitter.
Comey explained the probable series of events that lead to these communications. Starting on Twitter, a US citizen would be following an ISIS member. From there, the two would begin communicating via direct messaging. Soon enough, the conversation disappears when moved to a more secure application. As Comey admitted before Senate last Wednesday, there are 21,000 English speakers following ISIS on Twitter. With the ease of communication offered through Twitter, ISIS has a pipeline to thousands of potential supporters.
These reports come after several safety and precautionary measures were taken in order to prevent such potential attacks during the Fourth of July weekend. A few weeks ago, memos by the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security as well as the FBI identified possible targets for ISIS attacks. On this list were several Mohammad drawing contests and the holiday weekend.
According to an analysis conducted by CNN of Justice Department records, since the start of 2015, U.S. officials have charged 49 alleged ISIS supporters. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who attempted at attack in Texas at a Mohammad drawing contest, weren’t included in the number. Although no specific reports have been released about this most recent issue, people will await for information about these alleged Fourth of July attempts.