U.S. Official: Global Terrorism Has Entered New, Lone Wolf Phase

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson urges Americans to strike a balance between vigilance and alarm.

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.Credit: AP

Global terrorism has entered a "new phase," in which Internet-savvy Islamist extremists are managing to draw lone wolf attackers to their cause, United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned on Sunday.

"We're very definitely in a new environment, because of ISIL's (also known as the Islamic State) effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others," Johnson said in an interview with ABC News.

"We're very definitely in a new phase in the global terrorist threat, where the so-called lone wolf could strike at any moment."

Johnson urged Americans to strike a balance between vigilance and alarm, arguing that the new environment should not prevent them from going about their daily lives.

"We encourage people to go to public events, sporting events," he said.

FBI Director James Comey said last week that authorities were concerned about the use of online propaganda by groups such as ISIL to encourage attacks on "the uniformed military and law enforcement."

As a result, the U.S. military has boosted security at its bases and facilities within the U.S., acting on what it believes is an increased security threat by adding precautions such as more ID checks and searches.

Johnson said that he and Comey "spend a lot of time these days talking to police chiefs, sheriffs around the country. We did that in a video teleconference just on Friday."

Johnson said that local communities vary in preparedness for the attacks, though he has seen an increase in progress over the last year, citing success stories in law enforcement reports.

"And so our government and our state and local law enforcement are having to do a number of things to address that."

Johnson, however, argued that "a lot of the counter narrative needs to come from within the community. And so when I meet with community leaders, I am asking them, what are we doing to counter this narrative? It is slick. It is effective."

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