The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf on Jan. 4 issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletin following the killing of top Iranian military official General Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces in Iraq.
Wolf said that the DHS doesn’t have information about any “specific, credible threat” to the United States at this time but warned that “Iran and its partners, such as Hizbollah [also spelt Hezbollah], have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct operations in the United States.”
The bulletin cites the killing of Soleimani by the United States during a lethal airstrike on Jan. 3 as the catalyst for increased threats of retaliation from Iran, but said that the department is taking proactive measures to ensure that such an attack does not occur under its watch.
Soleimani was killed near Baghdad International Airport during the airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump following months of attacks by the Iranian-backed militias on American forces in Iraq.
“At this time there is no specific, credible threat against the homeland,” said Wolf.
“The Department issued this bulletin to inform, share protective measures, and reassure the American public, state and local governments, and private sector partners that the Department of Homeland Security is actively monitoring and preparing for any specific, credible threat, should one arise.
“The Department is operating with an enhanced posture and various operational components are taking protective measures where prudent and necessary. We have been in constant communication with Congress and interagency partners.
Wolf added that “the American people should feel assured the entire Department is working for them to keep them safe.”
Elsewhere, the bulletin cited Iran’s cyberwarfare capabilities, adding that the country “can execute cyber attacks against the United States” and “is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.”
Despite its reassurances, the bulletin added that an attack on the United States “may come with little or no warning.”
On Friday, the State Department urged U.S. citizens to leave Iraq “immediately” after the Pentagon confirmed that Trump had ordered the airstrike that killed General Qassem Soleimani.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately,” the department tweeted.
The embassy also warned U.S. citizens not to approach the embassy in Baghdad after dozens of protestors stormed the building on Jan. 2 in retaliation to the U.S. airstrikes launched on targets of the Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, killing 25 people and wounding 55 more. The United States called the strikes “defensive” and said they were in response to the firing of 30 rockets by pro-Iranian Iraqi militia that killed a U.S. contractor.
Meanwhile, Trump warned Iran not to attack “any Americans or American assets” on Saturday night after senior Revolutionary Guards commander, General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, threatened that 35 “vital” U.S. targets were “within reach” for the Islamic republic.
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
“The USA wants no more threats!” the president added.