LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) – Metro police confirm al-Qaeda is encouraging lone jihadists to strike local targets. The goal of any attack would be mass casualties.
The vague threat is against nightclubs and casinos. Law enforcement officials heard these warnings before, but no one on either the state or federal level believes a solid plan is in motion.
Lt. Nichole Splinter of the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center says the threats are common rhetoric.
“We are aware there was a new publication released by al-Qaeda suggesting attacks on the West,” she said.
While terrorist publications have urged followers to build car bombs and go after the United States, Las Vegas casinos and nightclubs were specifically mentioned in the past week. And that – Splinter says – is quite possibly a first.
“It does not, however, interpret that there is any planning or operational phases that have been identified,” she said. “It's just suggesting rhetoric to those that subscribe to violent jihadist ideologies.”
Splinter says that's exactly the kind of information that is monitored 24/7 at the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center. Every potential threat – no matter how vague – is taken seriously.
The threats come just days after American journalist James Foley was executed by the extremist group Islamic State in Iraq, or ISIS.
Despite the timing, experts say they do not believe the execution and these new on-line threats are related.
“ISIS, they have no tentacles here yet,” U.S. Sen. Harry Reid said. “There are other groups that do, but I don't think ISIS does.”
The counterterrorism center remains on guard, looking out for the safety of residents and the millions of tourists who visit Las Vegas every year.
“We also have to be aware we have thousands of trained personnel throughout the community and on the Strip that remain vigilant,” Splinter said, “and we also continually push the public campaign of “See Something, Say Something.’ ”