Trump nominates Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly would be the fifth person to lead the department. An official announcement is pending.
In an interview with The Hill, Trump claims that he would have Secret Service protection if he was a Democrat.
They’re in no rush because I’m a Republican. They don’t give a s—. I want to put them on notice because they should have a liability. Personally, I think if Obama were doing as well as me he would’ve had Secret Service [earlier]. I have by far the biggest crowds. Of course I don’t think they’d want anything to happen. But I would think they should be very proactive and want protection for somebody like me that has 20,000 people at any time,” Trump said. “You would think that they would want to be very proactive, but we have not heard from them.
Trump says members of his private security team have had preliminary conversations with the Secret Service, but the Department of Homeland Security says it has not received an official request from the Trump campaign for protection.
Homeland Security and the FBI issue a joint statement:
We have no information at this time indicating that this incident was either inspired, directed, or assisted by individuals associated with an identified designated foreign terrorist organization. However, the FBI investigation into his activities while overseas and the nature and extent of his affiliation with FTOs (foreign terrorist organizations) is ongoing. We have no information to date to suggest that these trips [over the past year to the Middle East] were associated with any nefarious or violent extremist activities
Authorities seek to determine if the shooter was inspired by ISIS or a similar organization or was a “lone wolf,” attack, where Abdulazeez acted on his own. U.S. Attorney Killian says that although the shootings are currently being investigated as “domestic terrorism”, they are not as of yet officially classified as an act of terrorism.
A TSA internal investigation reveals security failures where investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives and weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials. In one test by the TSA’s Red Team, an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down. The review determines that the TSA failed to make any noticeable improvement since 2009 despite spending $551 million for equipment and training since 2009. DHS statement:
Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General’s report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report.
TSA issues warning that ISIS attack on US soil is imminent while FBI investigates the possibility. VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams are deploying to various undisclosed locations. ISIS frequently threatens to attack the US, this is the first time the US is responding as if it is a credible threat. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security declines to comment on specifics but states:
Over the last few months, we have made a number of security adjustments, including enhanced screening at select overseas airports and increasing random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage on flights inbound to the U.S., reflecting an evolving threat picture.
The DHS says that four passengers were taken from Dulles to a local hospital after enhanced screening raised alarms. DHS and the CDC don’t give further details. The two Northern Virginia hospitals closest to Dulles say they didn’t receive the patients. DHS and CDC aren’t able to explain the discrepancy. A person familiar with the screenings says a 13-year-old boy and his mother were taken to a hospital last Thursday after the CDC became concerned about their symptoms, and two other passengers were taken to a hospital over the weekend. The person was unable to name the hospital, and said that all four passengers apparently were released after further testing.
A counter-terror official says ISIS militants have discussed the possibility of entering the U.S. via the Mexican border over social media, but says the Department of Homeland Security believes the border currently remains safe. Francis Taylor, DHS undersecretary for intelligence and analysis:
There have been Twitter and social-media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility. [DHS is] satisfied that we have the intelligence and the capability at our border that would prevent that activity.
Border officials say there is no evidence that ISIS militants are entering the U.S. via Mexico despite evidence that the possibility is being discussed on social media accounts related to ISIS. They say that radicalized militants returning to the U.S. remain a greater threat. Department of Homeland Security official Jennifer Lasley tells the House Homeland Security border security subcommittee:
We don’t have any credible information, that we are aware of, of known or suspected terrorists coming across the border.
John Wagner, assistant commissioner in the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s Office of Field Operation:
The number of known watch-listed persons we are encountering on the Southwest border is minimal compared to commercial aviation. We’re talking tens versus thousands.
Officials with the Department say direct flights bound for the United States will face increased security. The extra precautions follow new intelligence reports that Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and the Arabian Peninsula are plotting to blow up flights to the United States, using a bomb that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems:
We’ve seen an increase in foreign fighters who have traveled to Syria and other countries in the region and returning. So, we have been discussing a range of steps we can take in a coordinated fashion.
Intelligence officials estimate as many as 7,000 foreign nationals have gone to Iraq and Syria to join the fight, and of that number, the FBI estimates that roughly 100 are Americans, raising concerns that United States citizens with valid passports could return home and carry out an attack on U.S. soil. They add the move is a preemptive measure and not prompted by any specific threat.
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