US on high alert for terror in preparation for New Year's celebrations

December 31, 2015 03:36
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WASHINGTON - US authorities are monitoring investigations overseas of alleged plots by Islamic State operatives or sympathizers to launch attacks over the New Year's holiday period, US officials said on Wednesday.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and other US agencies, however, said they were unaware of any imminent or credible threats by Islamic State or other militants to attack inside the United State or hit American targets overseas.

In New York City, traditionally the site of the nation's largest New Year's Eve celebration, police have seen no credible threat at this time, a New York police spokesman said.

US officials noted arrests overseas by authorities in Turkey, Belgium and Indonesia in connection with alleged plots linked to Islamic State. Brussels, Belgium's capital city, canceled its New Year's fireworks due to a threat, city officials said.

Belgian police arrested two individuals connected to a motorcycle gang last weekend on suspicion that they were plotting an attack against landmarks in Brussels, possibly including the Grand Place, the city's most famous square.

"Security services are rightly worried that Islamic State and al Qaeda will try to direct or inspire an attack early in the new year to follow up the Paris operation. The plan for an attack on Brussels' iconic grand market would be just such a spectacular assault," said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA Middle East expert and sometime policy adviser to President Barack Obama.

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