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FBI sets up command posts to deal with terror

WASHINGTON – The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has set up command centers in Buffalo and at other locations across the country to deal with possible terrorist attacks over the Fourth of July weekend, but a spokesman for the agency stressed that there’s no known specific threat to the Buffalo region.

Maureen P. Dempsey, the FBI’s local spokeswoman, said Thursday that the agency had located command centers nationwide to respond to a heightened threat of attacks over the holiday weekend.

“We’re not aware of a threat here that’s greater than anywhere else,” Dempsey said.

Nevertheless, she said that the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has repeatedly called for attacks against U.S. targets in recent weeks, prompting the FBI to pour resources into locations across the country where it can gather intelligence and respond if a terrorist attack should occur.

“The FBI will work as closely as necessary with its partners in the federal, state and local governments to gather, share and act upon threats as they come to our attention,” Dempsey said.

Brian P. Boetig, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Buffalo, emphasized that there is nothing out of the ordinary about the command centers being established.

“I set up three or four command posts a week on a variety of issues,” Boetig said. “Every time we make a major arrest, we set up a command center.”

Boetig said the establishment of a command center concerning potential terrorist attacks “makes it sound like we’re expecting something,” when the threat is not at all specific.

Still, federal officials and other terrorism experts have been warning for weeks of an increased danger over the Independence Day weekend.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States,” Michael J. Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, said on CBS earlier this week. “That’s how serious this is.”

Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, agreed that the danger level is unusually high. On Fox News earlier this week, he said that recent Internet chatter from ISIS, along with the arrest of ISIS followers in the United States, combine to show that there is a current threat.

“It’s one of the highest threat environments we’ve seen in quite some time,” McCaul said.

That being the case, Dempsey urged citizens to call local law enforcement or the FBI if they see or hear anything suspicious that could be a clue to a terrorist threat.

email: jzremski@buffnews.com