U.S. leaders at home and abroad are taking steps to increase security and surveillance ahead of the July 4 holiday, following a warning from security officials that such gatherings could be targets of a terror threat.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is following fellow state and city executives Friday in announcing increased security efforts in his state. Cuomo said he directed the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Emergency Management to enhance monitoring of celebrations and events on July 4.
“We are keenly aware that New York State remains a top target for terrorists,” the governor said. “As we celebrate with family and friends this Independence Day, I urge all New Yorkers to not only remember the freedoms that we hold dear, but also remain cautious of their surroundings and learn to recognize and report suspicious activity.”
In the release, Cuomo said New York state will increase monitoring and communication with local, state and federal emergency management and law enforcement partners in response to a federal government warning.
The State Department also sent instructions to all its diplomatic posts worldwide to review their security before the July 4 holiday weekend, a senior State Department official told CNN. This alert was sent out to posts a few weeks ago as standard operating procedure before a holiday.
The note called for all embassies and consulates to convene a meeting of their security teams, called an Emergency Action Committee, to assess their current security posture and determine whether any additional measures needed to be taken ahead of the holiday, the official said.
The official said there has been a drumbeat of intelligence chatter about terrorist threats as the weekend approaches, but nothing credible or specific.
“This is consistent with a holiday of this nature, but there has been nothing that is causing massive canceling of events,” the official said.
Most of the high threat posts in the Middle East held their July 4 celebrations last month because the Muslim holy month of Ramadan fell early this year. In other countries where the heat is particularly punishing during July, embassies and consulates have begun to hold their national celebration on Presidents Day.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued recent terror guidance, citing the July 4 holiday specifically as a target. As a result, the Governor also urged New Yorkers to be alert to any potential suspicious activity over the holiday weekend.
U.S. intelligence and security agencies also cited several upcoming Prophet Mohammed drawing events, which could invite terrorist attacks.
Across the country, U.S. police departments are heightening their security to combat threats, including some proposed by suspected supporters of ISIS who live in the states. The city of New York and Los Angeles had already announced taking increased steps in security.