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The U.S Department of Homeland Security is increasing security at federal buildings as a result of growing concern over lone-wolf terrorist attacks such as last week’s shooting in Ottawa.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday said he had instructed the Federal Protective Service, which protects federal buildings, to “enhance its presence and security” at certain buildings in Washington and elsewhere.
He called the move “precautionary” and cited “continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere, including against law enforcement and other government officials, and the acts of violence targeted at government personnel and installations in Canada and elsewhere recently.”
Mr. Johnson also said state and local governments as well as owners and operators of critical infrastructure should be “equally vigilant” in protecting against attacks by one person or a small group of people.
According to the Wall Street Journal, national-security officials have in recent years grown concerned about the possibility of attacks by individuals inspired by foreign terrorist groups but without any links to them. The lack of formal ties to terrorist groups makes so-called lone wolves particularly hard to detect before they act.
That threat emerged last week in Ottawa, when 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot a soldier before running into the Canadian Parliament, where he was shot dead after exchanging gunfire with police. Counterterrorism officials believe the shooting was motivated by his sympathy to Islamic terrorism, though the investigation is continuing.
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau isn’t believed to have formal links to any terrorist groups.
Also last week, a man in Quebec ran down two soldiers with his car, and a man in Queens, New York, attacked a group of police with a hatchet. Both were shot dead, and authorities believe that both had been inspired by Islamic extremism.