Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday that the United States is facing a new era in which a lone-wolf terrorist could “strike at any moment.” In an interview with ABC News, he said the Islamic State’s influence is spreading far beyond the battlegrounds of the Middle East:
We’re very definitely in a new environment, because of ISIL’s effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others.
The interview took place two days after U.S. Northern Command’s Admiral William Gortney ordered an increase in the force protection condition from FPCON Alpha Plus to Bravo. When asked if there was a specific threat toward the military, Johnson said, “It’s pretty much self-evident. I saw other groups have called for attacks on government installations, military installations, which is why we have ramped up our federal protective service at federal buildings around the country, and why the military, the Department of Defense, is taking action itself. These are prudent steps, these are prudent, cautious steps, in a time when the public and law enforcement and our government needs to be vigilant and needs to be aware.”
The Department of Homeland Security has recently come under fire from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) who reportedly called the government’s efforts to stop the social media recruiting campaign “laughable.” Johnson disagreed with his assessment, but did agree that the government cannot be alone in this fight. He said, “we need to get the message out, and that’s not necessarily a government objective, a government mission. It has to come from within the community. It has to come from Islamic leaders, who frankly can talk the language better than the federal government can.”
Last week, FBI Director James Comey told ABC News that “hundreds, maybe thousands” of Americans are receiving messages from ISIS urging them to join the group and launch assaults.