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Homeland Security Department Warns of Terrorist Threat During Holidays

November 11, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON — Veterans Day on Thursday included the usual gatherings at war monuments but with a special warning from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about terrorism risks.

The United States faces a “heightened threat environment” from domestic extremists and foreign terrorist groups through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, the agency warned Wednesday.

The keynote event for this Veterans Day was the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

President Biden laid a wreath at the tomb. A flyover featured several of the latest military aircraft. It was followed by a concert at the Veterans Day Memorial Amphitheater.

All of the events were well-attended by the public and streamed online, which is part of the reason the Homeland Security Department issued its advisory bulletin.

“The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment as it approaches several religious holidays and associated mass gatherings that in the past have served as potential targets for acts of violence,” the bulletin said.

The warning is based partly on information the FBI gained from monitoring online forums that advocate extremist ideologies and violence. 

“The ongoing global pandemic continues to exacerbate these threats, in part due to perceived government overreach in implementation of public health safety measures,” the bulletin says. 

At the same time, Islamic extremists are reportedly regrouping after the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan allowed them to regain control over the country. Military analysts testified to Congress after the withdrawal in August that terrorists could be ready to strike the U.S. targets within six months.

The Homeland Security Department bulletin said the “foreign terrorist organizations” seek to “inspire potential followers to conduct attacks in the United States.”

The bulletin did not warn of a specific U.S. target, only that the holidays present a tempting opportunity for terrorists.

Biden ignored any potential threats in his Veterans Day statement, instead focusing on gratitude to veterans.

“Fulfilling our nation’s promise to our veterans and military families, caregivers and survivors is not only a moral imperative — it is crucial to our national security and to maintaining the finest military the world has ever known,” Biden’s statement said.

Tom can be reached at [email protected].

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