Last Saturday we reported that combined federal and state police had foiled a terror plot on Federation Square in Melbourne Australia on 23 DEC by arresting 7 suspects in the plot. We also reported that the Kent police department in the UK was establishing patrols of specialist armed officers to protect the area around Canterbury Cathedral. The Tunisian man who drove a truck into a Christmas market outside of a local well-known church in Berlin Germany on Monday, 19 DEC, was claimed by ISIS as one of their soldiers. He killed 12 and injured 48 with his heinous act. A video was later released where the driver, Anis Amri, 24, swore allegiance to ISIS. He was later killed in a gun battle with young police officers in Milan Italy after taking a train across France.
US federal authorities have issued warnings to local law enforcement throughout the US as ISIS has published lists of thousands of churches and encouraged lone wolf jihadists to attack them with the coming of the Christian New Year. The messages were posted to the ISIS social media site Secrets of Jihadis. Signed by one Abu Marya al-Iraqi, the message in Arabic said that ISIS hoped lone wolf jihadists would “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie.” The list of churches in all 50 states was gathered from information available on the web. Another posted message went further and encouraged “the sons of Islam” to make attacks on just about anywhere that people might be gathered; markets, coffee shops, hotels and street activities.
A spokesman for the FBI, Andrew Ames, stated, “As part of the continuous dialogue with our law enforcement partners, the FBI routinely shares information about potential threats to better enable law enforcement to protect the communities they serve.” He also said that citizens were advised to maintain awareness of their surroundings and report suspicious activity.
The videos were posted on 22 DEC and some folks are in hopes that the references to the Christian New Year was actually Christmas, as many churches were well attended on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But attacks on revelers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day cannot be ruled out.
What extra precautions has your parish taken lately to protect those attending services and activities at your building?