The nation’s top military officer said the Pentagon is maintaining a “higher alert status” for Fourth of July due to potential threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that the holiday coincides with a call from ISIS to increase attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“The call went for increased attacks during Ramadan, which is why you see us maintaining a higher alert status,” he told reporters.
An ISIS spokesman last week called on followers to strike their enemies during the holy month, days before terrorists in Tunisia, Kuwait and France conducted attacks.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security also issued a bulletin warning of potential attacks in the U.S. against law enforcement officers and the military during the July 4th weekend.
Homeland Security officials said that bulletin was not related to the recent attacks abroad.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter also urged caution.
“We’re always vigilant at holiday time, and ISIL is another reason, as I’m sure Homeland Security has indicated, for vigilance,” he said, using another acronym for the terror group.
The Pentagon first announced it had increased its alert level for bases in North America on May 8, due to an increased threat from ISIS sympathizers.
At that time, officials said the decision was taken in response to an overall “heightened threat environment,” which included a shooting in Texas at an event where contestants drew depictions of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
Officials also said it was not prompted by any specific threat, but was “informed by a generally heightened threat level.”
The level was raised from “Alpha” — a steady state — to “Bravo.” Officials said that meant “awareness” and “additional personnel providing security in some circumstances.”