Throughout both the United States and Europe, threats against New Year’s Eve celebrations are being taken seriously.
Within the USA, concerns are mounting that terrorists may have entered the nation through the southern border, where illegal immigration is widespread. According to the Washington Times “The Border Patrol nabbed two Pakistani men with ties to terrorism at the U.S.-Mexico border in September in the latest instance of illegal immigrants from so-called “special interest countries” using the southern border as a point of entry to the U.S. Muhammad Azeem and Mukhtar Ahmad, both in their 20s and from Gujrat, were caught Sept. 20 by agents south of San Diego and just over the international border from Tijuana. When agents checked their identities through databases they got hits on both of them: Mr. Ahmad popped up as an associate of a known or suspected terrorist, while Mr. Azeem’s information had been shared by a foreign government for intelligence purposes.”
According to The Source “Federal, state and local authorities have heightened security in many highly populated locations that are expected on New Year’s Eve, including Times Square and the Rose Bowl party in Los Angeles.” Security is also being tightened in the nation’s capital. “In lieu of the attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and elsewhere, the FBI is increasing agents and staff in some of its 24-hour command centers around the country, including New York, Washington and Los Angeles. NYPD reports it will have 6,000 police near Times Square, the largest deployment ever of its type. Officials say their areas of concern always focus on so-called soft targets, including large gatherings and mass transit. Senior U.S. officials say the number of probes shows the way ISIS has used technology to enhance terrorist threats. Instead of vetting recruits and carefully planning major attacks as Al-Qaeda and other groups have done, ISIS uses a diffuse-propaganda strategy to encourage its recruits to be self-starters.”
The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert last month, stressing that “Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.”
According to Stratfor “Authorities across Europe have issued warnings and increased security efforts in light of intelligence indicating that jihadists may be planning attacks… Alerts have extended beyond Europe, too: Russia has canceled New Year’s festivities in Red Square, and the United States and the United Kingdom have issued warnings to citizens living in Beijing to avoid the commercial Sanlitun area of the city over Christmas. There is also concern regarding large New Year’s Eve gatherings in New York and other U.S. cities. “Warnings such as these are not new. Similar warnings have emerged nearly every holiday season since 2000, and they are not entirely without merit. Al Qaeda attempted to pull off a spectacular multi-continent attack at the turn of the millennium and then plotted an attack against the Strasbourg Christmas Market in 2000. The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing and the failed shoe and underwear bombings also happened on or near the holidays.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that “Belgian officials…cancelled the capital city’s main New Year’s Eve fireworks display because of a threat of terrorism…Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, appearing on RTBF, the Belgian national broadcaster, said the celebration was cancelled in light of “a possible and credible threat…In France, investigators are probing cellphone traffic between the Nov. 13 attackers and an operative who was located in Molenbeek while the Paris massacre was under way, according to police and the Paris prosecutors office…Data recovered from a cellphone used by gunmen who struck the Bataclan concert hall, killing 90 people, showed the attackers made calls and several text messages to a prepaid Belgian phone that investigators tracked to the Brussels’ district of Molenbeek, according to a report in French daily Le Monde that was confirmed by a police officer.”
The UK’s Express newspaper reports that “London has been placed on high alert amid fears a terror attack could strike on New Year’s Eve.”