Terrorists may have found a simple yet terrifying means of thwarting security and spreading fear and mistrust.
Unidentified militants could be planning to disguise themselves as police, firefighters and even paramedics before staging attacks, a memo sent to law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania indicates.
“The impersonators’ main goals are to further their attack plan and do harm to unsuspecting citizens as well as members of the emergency services community,” a bulletin labeled First Responder Impersonators: The New Terrorist Threat reads. Unidentified sources inside the Pennsylvania State Police confirmed the memo’s authenticity to several outlets, including to CBS News.
Authorities fear that terrorists could easily obtain uniforms, badges and other police and emergency services paraphernalia online or from retail stores, the memo indicates. Putting on law enforcement uniforms would enable armed terrorists to move about openly and to get through security.
“A wide variety of products such as clothing, weapons and tactical gear can be purchased on the Internet by any consumer, regardless of a confirmed affiliation to emergency services, government or law enforcement agency,” the memo states.
Terrorists Could Be Planning an Ambulance Bomb?
Terrorists might also be planning to disguise vehicles as police cars, ambulances or fire trucks to gain access to secure areas, the memo notes. One frightening scenario would be to fill an old ambulance with explosives and set them off in the middle of a crowd.
Such an attack already may be planned, the memo says. It warns cops to be on the lookout for emergency vehicles in poor condition or vehicles that are overloaded.
The memo was issued by the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center, which is part of the Pennsylvania State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The memo was apparently based on intelligence supplied by the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, according to NBC News.
Terrorists in Disguise
Authorities in Europe have found evidence that terrorists were planning to use disguises in attacks.
When French police arrested suspected ISIS sympathizer Sid Ahmed Ghlam in April they discovered that he was in possession of police arm bands and bulletproof vests, NBC News reported. Documents seized from Ghlam indicate he may have been planning to attack a church.
Police clothing, bomb-making materials and Kalashnikov rifles also were discovered in a house raided by Belgian police in January, The Wall Street Journal reported. The house was being used as a base by suspected ISIS members who were planning to attack police and civilians.
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