Fear Alert: US Press Unquestioningly Spread Predictions of ISIS Attacks on July 4th Holiday

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Fear Alert: US Press Unquestioningly Spread Predictions of ISIS Attacks on July 4th Holiday

Screen shot of CNN broadcast spreading fear of imminent July 4th terrorism attacks with no caveats whatsoever. (Photo: Screenshot)

A number of US media organizations are spreading fear based on a “bulletin” shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Department that reportedly warns of possible attacks by ISIS supporters on the July 4th holiday.

ABC News reported on the bulletin, which was issued on June 26, and titled, “Holiday Celebrations Remain Attractive Target.” It was sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States and warned Independence Day celebrations and activities that “appear to defame the prophet Mohammed” would “likely result in threats or plans to conduct violent extremist acts.”

Despite the entire global security apparatus built and vastly expanded since the September 11th attacks over a decade ago, it apparently indicated that FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center officials “remain concerned about the difficulty in detecting violent extremists—especially lone offenders given the individualized nature of radicalization to violence.”

CNN aired a report acknowledging the violent attacks that took place in France, Kuwait and Tunisia on June 26. Terrorism correspondent and propaganda maestro Paul Cruickshank declared, “The worry is the United States is next.”

Unnamed US officials were said to fear the “symbolic July 4th celebrations coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will further embolden ISIS supporters in the US to unleash attacks, a threat taken so seriously the Department of Homeland Security and FBI sent out a warning to law enforcement officials a week in advance of the holiday.”

Cruickshank ominously opined, “Terrorist groups have historically been interested in targeting the United States on the July 4th holiday because they see that holiday as being very important to Americans, and if that were to happen, then this would inflict psychological trauma.”

Another report from CNN claims the “Islamist terrorist threat is the highest in years,” and “officials have raised concern about possible domestic attacks tied to the July 4 holiday and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.”

On CBS News’ “This Morning,” former CIA director Mike Morell, in his new position as CBS News senior security contributor or chief fearmonger, declared warnings like Friday’s advisory of potential terrorist attacks in the US during the Fourth of July are routine, but “there’s nothing routine about this particular one to me.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That’s how serious this is,” Morell stated.

Morell is correct. Bulletins about potential terrorism attacks in the US on the Fourth of July are routine. One was reported in 2013, 2011, 2004, and 2002.

In 2011, the fear spread by law enforcement officials was that al Qaeda and others were “eager to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

John Solomon and Tara McKelvey unquestionably reported for The Daily Beast that the “threat matrix” had “ticked up in recent weeks.” There was no specific threat, however, “evidence” in bin Laden’s possession had shown an interest in attacking “major holiday gatherings, including Independence Day celebrations.”

Nothing happened. No matter how much individuals like former Bush Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend hyped the threat, no one was attacked by terrorists in America on the Fourth of July in 2011.

That might be because these terrorism bulletins or alerts to law enforcement agencies are just agencies being “prudent.”

“I don’t want to overhype it, but I think what was passed out yesterday is just a prudent–prudent a–alert to law enforcement agencies,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said prior to the July 4th holiday in 2002. “And in the course of the next couple of days, we’ll be meeting on a regular basis to make an assessment of–of any additional threats that might be coming our way.”

What happened in 2002 less than a year after the September 11th attacks? Nothing.

Cruickshank may be right that terrorists have historically been interested in attacking the US on July 4th, but that is probably aspirational and a lot like someone saying they’ve long been interested in taking a trip to Jamaica.

The suggestion that the July 4th holiday falling during Ramadan will have some effect and inspire a radical ISIS supporter to commit terrorism is truly a terror fantasy driven by Islamophobia within US security agencies. Ramadan coincided with the July 4th holiday last year, and there was no terrorism attack.

Both CNN and CBS focused on the number of ISIS supporters who have been arrested by the FBI and charged with terrorism-related offenses. The ninth “ISIS-related arrest” was made against Alaa Saadeh, a twenty-three year-old from New Jersey who allegedly planned to travel and join ISIS in Syria. Morell called attention to the 50 people arrested in the past year for “being radicalized by ISIS, wanting to go fight” over in Iraq or Syria or “wanting to conduct an attack here.”

Unmentioned was the role played by undercover FBI agents and paid confidential informants in manufacturing many of these “terrorist” arrests. For example, a thirty-eight year-old man in Ohio was targeted in an elaborate scheme by three paid confidential informants, including one with an extensive criminal history. Two informants impersonated ISIS fighters stationed in Iraq and manipulated the man into creating propaganda for ISIS. They wanted him to make propaganda videos, but he had no idea how to make a video and so the FBI had to settle with having him make a two-minute audio clip with an inflammatory message.

In spite of all the hysteria and blustering from elected members of congress, like massive Islamophobe Peter King, what should be first and foremost emphasized in any report from media is the following:

“The bulletin doesn’t warn of any known active plots,” according to CNN.

Let’s make that point again. There are zero known “active plots.” So, media should stop reinforcing fear of Islam and bigotry toward Muslims.

And, if there is any terrorism threat to hype this holiday, the media should be hyping the threat of white right-wing terrorism.

The threat of such violence from white right-wing extremists is far more real than the threat from ISIS. Nearly twice as many people have died in “deadly right wing attacks” in the last 14 years than those who have died as a result of “jihadist attacks.” White supremacist Dylann Roof recently massacred nine people in a historic black church in Charleston. At least five black churches have caught fire in the last week, and arson is suspected to have occurred against at least three of the churches.

It seems possible a white right-wing terrorist might want to use Independence Day to send a message to some ethnic, racial or religious group he believes threatens freedom or his heritage in America. However, according to King, “There is no comparison between these white supremacists and an internationally coordinated movement which, if the attacks were not stopped, we could have thousands and thousands of deaths.”

King is so blinded by his bigotry toward Muslims that he neglects the fact that US security agencies do not believe the threat stems primarily from an “internationally coordinated movement.” What US security agencies claim to be afraid of are the “lone offenders,” who may suddenly be inspired to commit an attack.

Regardless, the US government and its media have organized many of its primary functions around repeating, exaggerating, and over-emphasizing any possible whiff of a threat from any Islamic extremist faction. It does not matter whether there is evidence an attack will likely happen or that there are actual American lives who could potentially be extinguished at any moment by some right wing terrorist. What matters is the global security state has selected an enemy, ISIS, and Americans must be very, very afraid.

In fact, every US official and media pundit spreading this fear depends on Americans being frightened because if Americans forget to be afraid, then the country might lower its guard and forget why the security industrial-complex that intrudes upon all of our private lives daily is necessary. And, for them, counterterrorism is a kind of state religion that must forever be zealously perpetuated.

Update 1

Journalist Adam Johnson has been documenting past “threats” reported by the FBI and other government agencies. In September, right after 9/11, FBI claimed a film studio in Hollywood could be attacked. FBI agents once tailed actor Russell Crowe in 2001 because they believed al Qaeda terrorists might kidnap him. In 2003, the FBI thought colleges or universities might be targeted.

In 2002, the FBI issued a “very vague” alert that people with “suspected ties to terrorist groups” were looking at information about stadiums in the US and Europe, particularly the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Another warning in 2002 was al Qaeda would attack “landmarks.”

Think of recurring events like the Super Bowl or the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which occur every four years, and there is always hype about terrorism potentially happening at the events. Nothing has ever happened, and chances are nothing will ever happen.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, Unauthorized Disclosure. Follow him on Twitter: @kgosztola

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