Homeland Security officials are now warning that so-called soft targets — places terrorists can easily access and blend in to cause large-scale devastation — are vulnerable to terrorism, as evidenced by the attacks in Paris and Brussels.
In response to these concerns, the FBI recently held a briefing for bars and restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area regarding the potential threat of terrorist attack, although presumably all soft targets are at risk as well.
According to sources within the intelligence community, the attacks in Europe suggest that terrorists will hijack criminal syndicates to facilitate their plans, Fox News reports. Sources also say that soft targets will face renewed focus by terrorist groups due to their ease of access and lax security.
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“What we saw in Paris were strikes against restaurants, sidewalk cafes, as well as a concert hall and the stadium,” said Fox News Chief Intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge. “The stadium had some security and that’s largely credited with keeping one, at least one, of the suicide bombers from killing more people in Paris.”
She continued, “But here in Washington, D.C., because there are so many targets that have been significantly hardened, which is inside language for additional security added, that there was a briefing called with a focus on these so-called soft targets — restaurants and bars — held by FBI, Homeland Security, as well as the Washington, D.C., police.”
Speaking with one of the attendees from the briefing, Fox News learned that it was much more than a “see something, say something campaign.”
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“They went to, you know we need detailed building plans and floor plans for your restaurant, your bar. We need you to have meetings with your employees, to discuss succession plans and an evacuation plan,” said Bill Duggan, a bar owner in Washington who was present at the briefing.
The briefing also showed the gap between government capabilities and real-world scenarios and what the private sector must be able to do to bridge that gap. Attendees of the briefing described it as a “sobering view” of our security realities.
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