SOUTHERN INDIANA — The United States Department of Homeland Security has issued a bulletin through the National Terrorism Advisory System, following the United States military takedown last week of a high-ranking Iranian commander.
Although there is no specific credible threat, the bulletin issued Jan. 4 by the DHS summarizes any potential for violence following the strike Jan. 2 in Iraq that killed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-QUDS Commander Qassem Soleimani. In the hours and days following, the leadership in Iran and associated extremist organizations have stated publicly they intend to retaliate, according to the bulletin, which expires Jan. 18.
The advisory states that terrorist efforts by Iran in the past have included homeland-based cyber attacks and plans to disrupt or destroy parts of infrastructure.
"Iran is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States," it reads.
It lists specific ways people can help and be prepared — by reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement, having personal safety plans in place, backing up cyber data and employing multi-step authentication.
This is the first bulletin issued by the DHS warning against potential terrorism this year; in 2018, 2017 and 2016 there were two each year.
"They're not common but they're also not unusual when these go out," David Hosick, director of Public Affairs with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said. He added that there was a similar bulletin issued just before the New Year's Eve holiday.
"As you can see from the bulletin, it's pretty broad and it basically tells people that there are some activities going on that could increase the threat level, but there are no specific interests that are identified nor are there any specific communities [or] states identified."
Local police ask that people be aware of their surroundings and if they see anything suspicious — whether that be someone leaving a package or backpack in a public area, suddenly acting strangely at work or school or other things that seem off — report it to authorities.
"I just think people need to watch those around them," Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said. "We are not living in the same world we were 20 years ago...people seem to react to things so much differently now."
He said residents are likely more on-guard than they were in the past, due to recent incidents of violence such as public shootings or the Boston Marathon bombing. He wants the public to continue to be alert.
"I just think it's best for everybody to be on their guard and watch for suspicious packages and if they see something say something," he said.
Similarly, New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said that while the city has "little violent crime and no history of activities described in the bulletin," he always believes people should be aware of their surroundings.
"This includes being able to identify suspicious persons, vehicles or items/packages," he said in an email. "In the event an individual identifies a suspicious person or item, we ask that they are a good witness immediately reporting to law enforcement a detailed description, location and any other pertinent information. Do not attempt to contact or detain a suspicious person or vehicle or handle any item/package."