SAN ANTONIO -- A potential terror threat is targeting Texas the day before the election as federal sources say Al Qaeda could also be planning attacks Monday in New York and Virginia.
U.S. authorities are taking the threat seriously, though the sources stress the intelligence is still being assessed and its credibility hasn’t been confirmed. Counter-terrorism officials were alerted to the threat out of abundance of caution.
Dr. Jeffrey Addicott, the Director of the St. Mary’s Center for Terrorism Law, says that abundance of caution is especially important given the timing of the threats.
“This, of course, is a time of interest,” Dr. Addicott said. “Our national election’s coming up.”
Addicott added that New York is always a top target, and Virginia has a high population of jihadists. Texas, he says, also has a history of radicalization.
“We had the first attack, significant attack, on our homeland in 2009 with [Nidal] Hasan [in the Fort Hood shooting],” Dr. Addicott said. “We had the shootings in Garland, we just had an individual arrested in Houston.”
Since 9/11, 10 people have either executed terror attacks or attempted terror attacks in Texas. Two of those people were radicalized in San Antonio. Dr. Addicott says that federal sources wouldn’t be warning of threats if there wasn’t good reason to be vigilant.
“Anti-terrorism is you stop them before they get to the Boston Marathon, you stop them before they get to the nightclub in Orlando,” Dr. Addicott stressed.
Overall, Dr. Addicott assured that the likelihood of an attack is incredibly low. Voters are much more likely to get harmed in a car accident on the way to the polls. But he says that the best line of defense is to be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t seem right: a backpack left unattended in a crowd or someone wearing thick layers of jackets in 80-degree weather.
His advice: Go about your voting feeling safe. But if you do see something, notify law enforcement.