Echoing a bulletin issued to law enforcement agencies nationwide, the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office on Tuesday asked area residents to remain vigilant during Fourth of July celebrations and to report any suspicious activity.
The nationwide precaution does not stem from any specific terror threat in Louisiana or elsewhere, authorities said, and there’s no reason for families to change their holiday plans or avoid traveling.
But the FBI plans to boost the number of personnel it has available this weekend to respond to any threats related to public events in New Orleans and across the state.
Other FBI field offices were said to be taking similar measures.
“Fourth of July 2015 is not like Fourths of July of the past. There’s a lot going on in the world. There’s a lot going on here in the country,” said Andrew Ludlum, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s local field office. “It’s not going to be something we do every weekend, or every holiday for that matter. But this is one that attracts a lot of attention.”
The alert comes on the heels of terror attacks in the past few days in France, Tunisia and Kuwait.
CNN reported last week that federal law enforcement officials believe the Islamist terrorist threat has reached its highest point in years, raising concerns about potential attacks in the United States tied to Independence Day.
Jeh Johnson, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, issued a statement last week encouraging law enforcement “to be vigilant and prepared.” He promised to “adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people.”
Ludlum, the local FBI agent, likened the law enforcement preparations in New Orleans to those taken before other major events.
“Our posture over the Fourth of July weekend will be similar to the posture we take during events like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Sugar Bowl and other special events,” he said. “We will be working closely with our state, local and other federal law enforcement agency partners to ensure information is shared rapidly and to the widest extent possible over the weekend.”
The last time the FBI found itself in a similar state of elevated alert was around the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Ludlum said, though he stressed that “we’re not coming close to that kind of security posture” with current preparations.
“I have no reason to believe anybody should alter their plans of how they celebrate the Fourth of July, whatsoever,” he added.
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