FBI foiled July 4 attacks, chief says

FBI foiled July 4 attacks, chief says
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U.S. officials stopped Islamic extremist-inspired attempts to kill Americans around the July 4 holiday, FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 reasons why impeachment fatigue has already set in Day 2 impeachment ratings drop by more than 1 million from first day Chris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' MORE said on Thursday.

Over the past four weeks, more than 10 people inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been arrested by U.S. authorities, Comey told multiple news outlets, some of which were focused on the Independence Day holiday.

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"I do believe we disrupted efforts to kill people in connection to the Fourth," Comey said, according to CBS

"Some of them were focused on the Fourth of July, and that's as specific as I can get,” he added, according to NBC.

The news comes after repeated warnings from the Obama administration about terror threats during the holiday weekend, on the heels of three attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait that rattled security officials. In June, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning police around the country to be “vigilant.”

No actual attacks were carried out in the U.S. around the July 4 holiday, prompting some critics of the administration to accuse it of fear-mongering.

Extremists’ ability to use the Internet has created a highly unpredictable situation, Comey said, where it’s difficult to predict if or how violence will erupt.

"It's actually hard to figure out when they're trying to kill somebody," Comey said. "And you cannot say, 'Well, we've got to do it on the Fourth,' because you know you have people who are motivated to kill people, and they are unreliable in terms of when they're going to act." 

In Senate testimony this week, Comey repeatedly warned that new avenues of communication presented by social media have created new ways for terrorist groups like ISIS to inspire violence from thousands of miles away.

"There's a device, almost a devil on their shoulder all day long saying, 'Kill, kill, kill, kill,’ ” Comey told lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

His concern is even greater, he warned, when messages can be encrypted to prevent the government from intercepting them. Critics of the FBI worry that weakening online protection to give law enforcement access degrades security for everyone.