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Police in Northern Virginia on heightened alert over possible terror threat

FBI and DHS identify potential ISIS-linked threat to Virginia shoppers. Source - Department of Homeland Security
FBI and DHS identify potential ISIS-linked threat to Virginia shoppers. Source - Department of Homeland Security

Police in Northern Virginia are on a heightened state of alert as a new law enforcement alert warned of a potential threat against malls and shopping centers located just outside of Washington, D.C. The threat originated with ISIS and is the basis for the alert.

Authorities are still trying to determine the validity of the threat, according to the Washington Post. Police in several counties said they didn’t have specific information. Kevin Davis, chief of Fairfax County police, said, “When we receive information as we did over the past 24 hours, that we think we need to act on, we act on it. And that’s all we’re doing in this case, out of an abundance of caution.”

CNN is reporting that a law enforcement source said the FBI and Department of Homeland Security briefed state and local law enforcement officials in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia on a possible terror plot in the region in the coming days.

However, Halloween night activities this weekend and a couple of days off of school, and Election Day on Tuesday, all warrant a stronger police presence. But real, or not, local law enforcement officials are taking the threats seriously.

Homeland Security intelligence chief John Cohen said at a conference Thursday that the national and international landscape are both “volatile,” adding, “We’re dealing with an evolving foreign terrorist threat environment as conditions in Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries that are known areas of terrorist activity are evolving. We’re dealing with a sustained threat by domestic violence extremists and domestic terrorists,” he said, according to CBS News.

Cohen also said this week that terror groups like ISIS and al Qaeda want individuals to act on their own – so-called lone-wolf attacks – overseas and at home. “Right now we’re seeing a dramatic increase — or an increase — in online activity by media operations associated with different al Qaeda elements and Islamic State,” Cohen said. 

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