Citing terror concerns, FBI urges vigilance during 4th of July weekend

Citing terror concerns, FBI urges vigilance during 4th of July weekend

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In a port city that thrives off of tourism, the recent increased national terrorism concerns prompted a quick response.

Over the 4th of July weekend, hundreds of thousands of visitors will be in the city for the annual Essence Festival. And the fireworks show on the riverfront always attracts a large gathering.

As ISIS continues to call for lone wolf attacks on U.S. soil, and now that Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims is underway, some in the intelligence community believe there could be more incentive for radicals to try to strike in the U.S.

"We are just increasing the amount of personnel available to share information, to address, to assess, analyze, respond to any threats that may come in, although there are no specifics threats," said New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Andrew Ludlum.

Ludlum oversees national security issues.

"This is not related to any direct act or actions or threats, this is just a general precaution," Ludlum said.

The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, known as GOHSEP is on board.

"The law enforcement community is working very hard to ensure that we keep the people as safe as we can," said GOHSEP Deputy Director Chris Guilbeaux.

Increasingly, ISIS has used social media to recruit and make threats.

"What they are trying to inspire is self-radicalization of United States citizens in this country through the Internet and social media, and they take it upon themselves to pick up a weapon, go to a crowded venue and starting shooting it up," said Jim Bernazzani, a former head of the local FBI office, who also worked with the CIA on counter-terrorism efforts after the attacks of 9/11.

He said international terrorism threats are not knew, but with ISIS they are different.

"It takes that one self-radicalized American citizen, the kid that you went to school with and for some reason or another gets on the social media and gets on the Internet, gets an idea and picks up a weapon and goes to a crowded venue. And that's basically what the essence of this is here," Bernazzani said.

No one is suggesting that the public cancel holiday plans.

"So if you're going to go down to the French Quarter, you're going to watch the fireworks - go. Don't alter your plans, because if you alter your plans, in essence, they win," Bernazzani said.

Basically, law enforcement representatives said if you're out and about this holiday weekend and you see something that doesn't seem right or feel right, then by all means alert authorities. That includes individuals who are acting suspicious.

"Suspicious packages, vehicles, anything that looks out of place," Ludlum said.

"You may think it's innocuous, but the FBI might say this fits," Bernazzani said.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.