Reported Terrorist Targeting of D.C. Has Not Altered Agency Precautions

A Federal Protective Service officer stands guard at a rally outside the Justice Department last winter. A Federal Protective Service officer stands guard at a rally outside the Justice Department last winter. Flicker user Elvert Barnes Protest Photography

Monday morning’s news reports of an ISIS video warning of a planned attack on Washington similar to the one in Paris have not altered the ongoing security precautions taken by federal and local authorities, according to agency sources contacted by Government Executive.

The Homeland Security Department and the FBI “are closely monitoring events in Paris and elsewhere, and we are in contact with our counterparts in the region,” a DHS spokesman said. “At this time, we know of no specific or credible threats of an attack on the U.S. homeland, or specifically Washington, D.C, of the type that occurred in Paris.”

Citing a “constantly evolving threat picture” and past calls for violence by ISIS, the spokesman said, “These threats are always taken seriously and we continue to work with state and local law enforcement to ensure their safety."

The Office of Personnel Management had no statement on the video, referring questions to the Federal Protective Service, though a spokeswoman stressed that OPM routinely works with regional law enforcement and emergency management to coordinate changing federal workforce security procedures.

Sources within FPS said officials are maintaining the usual “heightened vigilance" after such events.

Homeland Security Department Secretary Jeh Johnson last fall ordered increased security at federal buildings in Washington and other major cities, in response to an attack on the Canadian Parliament and "continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere, including against law enforcement and other government officials." He did not specify the exact steps being taken, or locations that would receive extra protection. 

The board that oversees the Capitol Police on Monday sent an email to lawmakers and staff saying it had an “increased presence and visibility,” out of “an abundance of caution,” the Associated Press reported. It urged staff to stay in touch with their offices and use the Capitol Hill underground tunnels.

Washington Metro officials announced that transit police have expanded patrols, K-9 inspections and random screening for explosives. 

According to news reports, the 11-minute video praising the Nov. 13 shootings in Paris that claimed at least 129 lives and wounded hundreds, came out of the Islamic State in Iraq and is circulating on social media.

(Image via Flickr user  Elvert Barnes Protest Photography)

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