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DHS Secretary Unveils Revised Terror Alert System

Date: 2015-12-17
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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has announced a new threat advisory level called “bulletin” at a news conference in Washington, effective Dec. 16, 2015.

The new system simplifies the alert system to only two terror advisory levels, “elevated” and “imminent.” According to a senior DHS official, Johnson felt a more flexible category was needed to provide the public with additional information about the national threat environment. The “bulletin” level is intended to describe general threats of terrorism, not specific, credible threats. The latter would still be classified in the “elevated” or “imminent” categories.

“We are in a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland,” said Johnson.  “Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the ‘self-radicalized’ actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice. Recent attacks and attempted attacks internationally and in the homeland warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness.”

A posting on the web site outlined the details of the new threat advisory level, which is expected to last through June 16, 2016.



  • Though we know of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland, the reality is terrorist-inspired individuals have conducted, or attempted to conduct, attacks in the United States this year.
  • DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places.
  • As we saw in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.
  • In the current environment, DHS is also concerned about threats and violence directed at particular communities and individuals across the country, based on perceived religion, ethnicity, or nationality.

U.S. Government Counterterrorism Efforts

  • DHS and the FBI are providing additional guidance to state and local partners on increased security measures.  The public should expect an increased presence of law enforcement across communities in the weeks ahead. More stringent security should also be anticipated at public places and events. This may include a heavy police presence, additional restrictions and searches on bags and the use of screening technologies.
  • The FBI is investigating potential terrorism-related activities associated with this broad threat throughout the United States.  Federal, state, and local authorities are coordinating numerous law enforcement actions and community outreach to address this evolving threat.

Types Of Advisories

    • Describes current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism.
    • Warns of a credible terrorism threat against the United States.
    • Warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorism threat against the United States.

For more information, see

- People, Places & Things/ (via, 12/16/15)


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