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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday that the United States is facing a new era in which a lone wolf terrorist could “strike at any moment.”
“We’re very definitely in a new environment, because of ISIL’s effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others,” Johnson said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” using the administration's preferred acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Because of the use of the Internet, we could have little or no notice in advance of an independent actor attempting to strike.”
As a result, Johnson said, the federal government is making a greater effort to engage with state and local law enforcement and encourage them to be “vigilant” about what is happening in their communities.
Part of this effort is meeting with Muslim community leaders and urging them to counter ISIS's recruitment campaign on social media, which Johnson called “slick” and “effective.”
Lawmakers and experts have been critical of the federal government’s attempts to challenge that campaign, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reportedly calling the efforts “laughable.”
Johnson took issue with this description, but acknowledged that community leaders are in the best position to reach out to individuals who might be vulnerable to radicalization.
“It has to come from Islamic leaders, who frankly can talk their language better than the federal government can,” he said.
“And so when I meet with community leaders, Islamic leaders, that’s one of the things that we urge them to do.”
The interview took place two days after the military increased security at U.S. bases over concerns about terrorist threats.
Authorities are also investigating an attempted attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest outside of Dallas, Texas, for which ISIS has claimed credit.