The Scioto County Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA) informed The Daily Times Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a new terrorism advisory bulletin following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida over the weekend.
While a similar bulletin was issued back in December following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, federal government officials feel the national threat of terrorism has not diminished.
The bulletin explains that the attacks in San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels and Orlando show that terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.
They are particularly concerned about terrorist use of the internet to enlist homegrown violent extremists who could strike with little or no notice. Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware has undergone hours and hours of training, much of it dealing with that very scenario and while the information you have obtained might seem insignificant to you, law enforcement pieces it together with other intelligence.
“In each and every case that is investigated, law enforcement finds that someone knew something of relevance. It may not be readily apparent to them at the time. If it looks unusual, or causes you to intuitively question whether or not something is right, then you need to say something to law enforcement,” Ware The Daily Times. “Let law enforcement decide if an observation, statement, or action has greater meaning when pieced together with other information. It is the responsibility of law enforcement to protect communities, but each community member has an inherent obligation to be the eyes and ears to assist law enforcement in that pursuit.”
Angela Byers, special agent in charge of the FBI in 48 of Ohio’s 88 counties, told The Associated Press in an interview she was surprised at the threat level in Ohio and she suspects many people in the Midwest don’t realize that “violent extremists” can pop up anywhere.
“It’s scary. And it’s scary to us. I’m not sure the general public quite gets the gravity of it,” Byers said.
While Byers obviously can’t comment on any investigation her office is involved with, she said counter terrorism is a major focus.
“It seems like once we get one guy, another guy pops up high on the radar,” she said. “We just keep moving from one to the next.”
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced in December the addition of bulletins to the National Terrorism Advisory System. At the time, he said the bulletin was being issued to keep the public informed in a “new phase off the global threat environment.”
That global threat environment, he says today, hasn’t changed and U.S. authorities remain worried about homegrown violent extremists “who could strike with little or no notice.”
The Department of Homeland Security is encouraging Americans to continue to travel, attend public events, and freely associate with others but remain aware of their surroundings at all times.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.