Federal Brief Pointing to ISIS Risk in Puerto Rico Leaked
SAN JUAN – Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Leff of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), San Juan Field Office, made the following announcement on Friday evening :
“This week, the FBI received information that a group affiliated with ISIS is planning attacks in Puerto Rico. While this is the first specific terrorist threat we have received directed at Puerto Rico, it is one of many that the FBI receives on a regular basis. With respect to all such threats, our law enforcement partners and we run down every conceivable lead to determine if the threat is credible.
It is important to note that there are two questions we ask about all information we receive in order to thoroughly evaluate it. The first is the source of the information itself, whether the information is coming from an identified person or an anonymous caller. If the person is identified, we examine what we know about them and about their general trustworthiness. The second question we ask is the basis of the source’s knowledge, in other words, how are they able to know what they claim to know.
With regards to the threat we are currently investigating, the source of the information is an identifiable person. However, the source does not have any firsthand knowledge of this threat, and is instead passing on information received from someone else, whose trustworthiness we know nothing about. As a result, we are conducting a large scale investigation to see if we can corroborate the details of the threat. So far, not a single detail has been corroborated. By this, we mean that the more we are looking into it, the less likely the threat is becoming. But we will continue working around the clock until we have resolved this threat.
As always, the public is asked to call us with any information on suspicious activities. We can be reached at any time of the day or night at 787-754-6000 or https://www.fbi.gov/report-threats-and-crime.”
A document from the National Security State Information Center (NSSIC) circulating on social networks warns that two Puerto Rico newspapers and the Placita square in Santurce could be the next targets of an attack by the Islamic State.
The FBI told Caribbean Business an attack is highly improbable. According to a bulletin, apparently issued by the Puerto Rico Fusion Center, dated Thursday, illegal immigrants allegedly affiliated with the terrorist organization plan to attack El Vocero and El Nuevo Día, allegedly Friday or between the last week of July and the first week of August.
“Someone leaked this to the press, and if they see the report, it says it is law enforcement sensitive. We decided to send this alert only to law and order agencies so they would be more vigilant of the Placita of Santurce, El Nuevo Día and El Vocero, so they would be more attentive to this because, as there is nothing concrete, we cannot disclose it to the community, which could believe it to be true and happen,” explained Francisco Marí, director of the Puerto Rico Fusion Center, who believes there is a 50% chance that the attacks could be carried out.
The information contained in the report states that a group of people, who have met previously, plan to carry out attacks using backpacks with shrapnel and PVC tubes while wearing clothing to blend into the population. The data reportedly are the result of daily monitoring that the Puerto Rico Fusion Center carries out on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in addition to other electronic sources.
According to the head of the federal division, multiple threats have been received since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., and therefore police presence has been reinforced in several strategic areas. However, Marí urged Puerto Rico residents to remain calm and to inform authorities about any suspicious activity.
When Caribbean Business asked about the origin of these threats and the nationality of the alleged terrorist group, Marí said the information is confidential. As for the criteria that would prompt the agency to issue a public notice to citizens, Marí said it would do so when the likelihood is higher than 50%.