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Threat of New Year attack in U.S. low but ‘undeniable’: agencies

A member of the New York Police Department stands watch outside Saks Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 24, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

December 30, 2016

U.S. defense and security agencies said they believed the threat of militant attacks inside the United States was low during this New Year’s holiday, yet some chance of an attack was “undeniable,” according to security assessments reviewed on Friday.

“There are no indications of specific threats to the U.S. Homeland,” said a “situational awareness” bulletin issued to U.S. Army personnel this week by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. “However the threat from homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) in the United States is undeniable,” the bulletin added.

A senior U.S. official familiar with government-wide analyses of New Year’s holiday attack threats said the Army assessments were consistent with those of other U.S. security and intelligence agencies.

Some specific threats have come to the attention of government agencies, but were not considered credible, said the senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A separate bulletin, issued by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and headlined, “New Year’s Day Celebration Threat Assessment,” rated the overall threat of attacks against U.S. Army installations and personnel as “moderate.”

The command’s intelligence operations center received “no reporting of specific or credible threats targeting U.S. Army installations or its personnel for the upcoming 2017 New Year’s celebration,” said the bulletin, a copy of which also was made available to Reuters.

The assessment, however, noted that two recent issues of Rumiyah, an Islamic State propaganda publication, did “provide information on conducting knife attacks and using vehicles to cause mass casualties in populated areas.”

Such tactics were used in recent attacks on civilians in Nice, France, and in Columbus, Ohio, said the bulletin. It did not mention the Dec. 19 truck attack on a Christmas Market in the German capital, Berlin.

An update to the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command bulletin said that 100 “blocker vehicles” and 7,000 police officers – 1,000 more than were deployed last year would be stationed at Times Square on Saturday night.

Pentagon officials did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the threat assessments.

The U.S. army said it did not discuss “internal threat warnings or security posture”, according to a spokesman.