Federal authorities warn of ISIS threats to churches, holiday events

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Federal authorities warned Friday that ISIS sympathizers “continue aspirational calls for attacks on holiday gatherings, including targeting churches.”

The bulletin was issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security and issued to law enforcement agencies and private security companies around the US.

There are no known specific, credible threats, US law enforcement officials say. The bulletin was issued out of an abundance of caution given the public nature of the posted threats and the holiday season.

The bulletin was sent Friday to law enforcement after pro-ISIS websites had published a publicly-available list of churches in the United States.

The bulletin also describes the different signs of suspicious activity law enforcement should be aware of.

Local pastor Rev. Charles Harrison says he does plan on adding security during his Christmas services this weekend.

“It is a balancing act to do that because you don’t want people to be afraid but yet you have to take these potential threats seriously,” said Harrison.

In the past, public threats by ISIS supporters have focused on military and law enforcement targets. The more recent threats have expanded to include the type of attacks we saw in Berlin, Nice, France, and Columbus, Ohio.

The FBI office in Indianapolis issued this statement:

“The FBI is aware of the recent link published online that urges attacks against U.S. churches. As with similar threats, the FBI is tracking this matter while we investigate its credibility.  We continue to work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners should there be any potential threat to public safety.  The FBI asks members of the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

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