FLASH ALERT: POTENTIAL ISIS THREAT IN THE WASHINGTON, DC METROPOLITAN AREA ON HALLOWEEN WEEKEND
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Team: Beatrice Fratini and Nicholas Fegreus, NORTHCOM Team; Gabby Silberman and Lydia Pardun, Extremism Team
Week of: Monday, October 25, 2021
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT for a potential terrorist threat to shopping centers and high-volume roadways in the Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC metropolitan area (DMV) during the next 72 hours. This comes after a credible threat to a shopping mall in Northern Virginia. Vigilance should be performed in crowded locations across the United States (US) due to the high volume of Halloween gatherings and celebrations.
CTG is on HIGH alert regarding any potential terrorist attacks on shopping centers and busy streets in the DMV area, given large groups of individuals are expected to gather through the weekend and into next week as Halloween and the midterm elections take place. Halloween costume-wearing is very likely to help potential perpetrators disguise weapons and explosives in largely populated locations. Individuals across the US should remain vigilant and be alert of suspicious behaviors.
Over the October 29, 2021 weekend, the Sheriff Departments of Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Arlington Counties are urging the public to be alert in areas of high human traffic for the weekend of Halloween and the following week in response to a purported threat from ISIS. Law enforcement is increasing patrols of malls, high traffic areas, and transit areas, with a particular focus on Alexandria and Woodbridge as likely targets. Police attribute knowledge of the threat to regional intelligence partners. Although a specific target has not yet been confirmed, the threat is likely to hold validity. Currently, local law enforcement is working with the FBI to confirm the details of the threat and are asking individuals to “see something, say something.”
CTG recommends individuals stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity in the DMV area to local law enforcement. Potential targets likely include downtown areas, high-attendance parades, public trick-or-treating events, and large public celebrations at festivals and venues. Law enforcement should continue to be on high alert for any possible threats and increase their presence at shopping centers and other high-traffic areas throughout the region. Security checkpoints should be implemented at entrances of shopping centers in high-risk locations throughout the DMV area to screen for explosives, weapons, and other threats that could likely be employed in a potential attack. This is likely to deter potential perpetrators from entering crowded target locations as they would likely be apprehended. First responders should be on standby across the US in the event an attack occurs to help mitigate further violence or destruction of property. CTG will continue to monitor the developing threat. NORTHCOM Team will identify and analyze developing and potential threats of terrorism to the US; the Extremism Team will give insight into ISIS’s recent activity trends and likely future targets based on their ideology and goals.
CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH due to the large impact an ISIS terrorist attack is likely to have during the Halloween weekend and during local elections on Tuesday, November, 2, 2021. With large gatherings occurring across the US over the weekend, it is very likely a potential attack could cause serious harm. Young people, children, and parents participating in Halloween celebrations with high attendance rates in shopping centers are very likely to be the primary target of an attack. Congested roadways and transit areas are also at high risk. Explosive or armed attacks are very likely to severely impact access to groceries, business, and health services. High traffic for the holiday is also likely to impede emergency response time should an attack occur.
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) produces Worldwide Analysis of Terrorism, Crime, and Hazards (W.A.T.C.H.) intelligence to deliver critical intelligence and investigation services to pinpoint and assess regional variations of global threats. We can provide you with the safety and protection needed to feel secure. No matter if it’s just one person or an entire organization, we can handle everything for your peace of mind. We are the present, and future solution to the ever-evolving global threat landscape. To find out more about our products and W.A.T.C.H. services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.
 Northern Virginia police departments increases presence amid purported ISIS threat against shopping malls, WTOP News, October 2021, https://wtop.com/fairfax-county/2021/10/fairfax-police-increases-presence-amid-purported-isis-threat-against-shopping-malls/
 Local police 'aware' of rumors circulating about Halloween terror attacks, InsideNoVa, October 2021, https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/local-police-aware-of-rumors-circulating-about-halloween-terror-attacks/article_d1790c5c-38f8-11ec-aed9-4fbf6d111a94.html
 Statement on Information Circulating Regarding Potential Public Safety Impacts to Region, Twitter, October 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/LoudounSheriff/status/1454187234534563844?s=20