Three chilling developments in recent weeks raise increased concerns about schools being in the crosshairs of ISIS-inspired terrorists.
New public information since the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks include:
- A second wave of attacks by the ISIS-affiliated terrorists in Paris were interrupted just before the attacks were about to occur. According to news reports, the terrorist targets in the second wave included an attack of schools.
- In San Bernardino, California, one of the ISIS-inspired terrorist shooters had, in his role as a health inspector, visited 10 or more schools to inspect school cafeterias.
- The same terrorist attacker in San Bernardino also reportedly had photos of the exterior of another high school on his cell phone, raising questions as to why an inspector who focused on cafeterias had multiple exterior pictures of a school.
The findings to-date in San Bernardino investigation raise serious concerns about the possibilities that the shooters may have been plotting an attack on a school. News reports say that the male was allegedly planning another attack in 2012 that was halted due to law enforcement arrests in another terror plot in that area around the same time.
Farook and Malik were in the final planning stages of an assault on a location or building that housed a lot more people than the Inland Regional Center, possibly a nearby school or college, according to federal sources familiar with the widening investigation.
No one wishes to be alarmist and we all pray that our nation’s schools are never in the crosshairs of terrorists. But a terrorist accessing school food supplies and cafeterias where large groups regularly gather highlights the reality of school vulnerabilities. Early leaks of schools as a potential target, according to investigative sources, only strengthens those realities.
School security, public safety and homeland security professionals, as well as our elected officials, must step up and begin open discussions and planning about potential terrorist threats to our nation’s schools. A number of respected colleagues and I have worked for more than a decade and a half to heighten awareness and preparedness despite a reluctance by our public officials to discuss, plan and provide sustained funding for school emergency preparedness.
See my recent article entitled School terrorism preparedness: After the ISIS attack in Paris, is the U.S. the next target?, for a historical look on the issue and where we stand today.
Also see our our school terrorism preparedness web page on practical heightened security measures for schools at a time of terrorists threats.
Schools have long been soft targets for terrorism. But we can — and we must — do more and do better to reduce those risks and to strengthen school emergency preparedness for potential terrorist threats, as well as day-to-day security threats and other crises.
National School Safety and Security Services
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