FBI, Homeland Security issue warning of ISIS-inspired extremists targeting sports venues
WASHINGTON - There is a new warning that ISIS-inspired terrorists may possibly target stadiums and sports venues. It comes just days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and as the National Football League opens the regular season this week.
This latest warning appears to be an update to a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin that was issued at the beginning of this summer advising that ISIS extremists were being inspired to launch attacks inside the United States. In just the past few days, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have sent a new bulletin to law enforcement going into more detail about where those attacks may be launched.
It says homegrown ISIS-inspired terrorists have now shifted their focus away from government and military targets and towards civilian venues such as stadiums, arenas, concert venues and music festivals.
It goes on to point out that in the past 12 months, 75 percent of homegrown violent extremist attacks, such as the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, have focused on civilian targets.
Law enforcement officials who spoke with FOX 5 said they are familiar with this bulletin and they are working closely with the professional sports leagues. However, they did not want to go into detail about any additional security steps they are taking.
A spokesperson for the Washington Redskins declined to comment about this and said they would let appropriate law enforcement officials discuss this.
David Inserra, a homeland security analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said U.S. security officials are correct to increase attention on large stadiums which draw large numbers of people.
"This isn't like going to going to the TSA screening at Dulles or Reagan," he said. "This is going to the Nationals game. This is going to Fedex Field. That is the challenge - it is the sheer number of people and the fact it is not as secure a facility like the airports."
The NFL has altered its security policies in recent years about what you can and cannot bring into stadiums. Law enforcement officials said they are advising fans to read those regulations before they head to the stadium.