LONDON: US police in Virginia have been placed on high alert in response to intelligence reports that Daesh is preparing to stage attacks on shopping malls in the northern state.
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis told the media on Friday: “On Thursday we received information concerning potential public safety impacts to malls and shopping centers across the region.”
After the statement, CBS reported that Daesh was behind the threat, with police immediately responding with cruiser patrols around the giant Fair Oaks Mall, situated 20 miles from the US capital, Washington, D.C.
Davis said of the threat: “Sometimes the information we receive is not with great specificity, but we have to respond to it nonetheless.
“We have increased our police presence throughout the county to include major thoroughfares, transit hubs, shopping plazas and shopping malls.
“It’s just our responsibility to have a greater presence, to be more aware and to ask the community to have their eyes and ears peeled for suspicious activities.”
The increased police presence will remain throughout the Halloween weekend, he added.
The events came as John Cohen, head of the US Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch, warned that since the Afghanistan withdrawal on Aug. 30, Daesh has appealed for individual supporters to carry out deadly lone-wolf attacks in the US and Europe.
He said: “Right now we’re seeing a dramatic increase in online activity by media operations associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.”
A senior Pentagon figure also warned that Daesh-K, the Afghan offshoot of the militant group, could build the capacity to stage attacks on US soil within six months.
US President Joe Biden, in response to the warnings, has promised an improvement to the country’s counterterrorism capabilities, including an expansion of drone strikes to target threats to the US.