Members of online message boards for the terror group ISIS are encouraging “lone wolf” attacks on Times Square and other high-profile locations around the U.S. using homemade explosives, NBC News has confirmed.
A post on an ISIS message board titled “To the Lone Wolves in America: How to Make a Bomb in Your Kitchen, to Create Scenes of Horror in Tourist Spots and Other Targets” encourages readers to attack sites throughout the country, including the Crossroads of the World.
The post, first reported by online news site Vocativem which publishes globally trending stories and produces documentary-style videos for online and on-air broadcasts, includes a guide for building makeshift pipe bombs with household materials such as match heads, Christmas lights and sugar.
The forum includes images and bomb-building instructions from a 2010 edition of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire. It is allegedly the same guide used to build the explosives used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there's no credible information pointing to any terror plot against the city. Nevertheless, he said residents and visitors will see more patrols and other signs of heightened security in Times Square, the subways and elsewhere during the upcoming Jewish holidays and for the arrival of international dignitaries at the United Nations General Assembly.
"This is a new world — the evolving world of terrorism — and we are staying ahead of it," Bratton said Tuesday. "We have been focused on it, and I believe we are as prepared as any entity can be to deal with the threats. But the reality is that we are living in a new era of potential terrorism."
Bratton also said that ISIS has demonstrated a sophisticated command of how to use the Internet to cultivate sympathizers in the West.
"We are quite concerned, as you would expect, with the capabilities of ISIS, much more than al-Qaida ever was able, to project their ability to use social media to try and spread their recruitment efforts and try to inspire," Bratton said.
The NYPD's top counterterrorism official, John Miller, said while there is no specific credible threat, Times Square is a constant concern, citing the failed 2010 bombing attempt and reports that the Boston Marathon bombers considered making it a target.
"It's high-profile. It's symbolic," Miller said. "Notwithstanding this particular information which were still assessing, we always maintain a high police visibility and presence in Times Square."
Law enforcement officials have been trying to identify U.S. and European citizens who have joined the fight on the side of the Islamic State, fearing the recruits could be used for attacks on Western targets. Authorities also say the group has shown a determination to promote its brutal brand of jihad through an Internet marketing campaign that could incite homegrown terror.
On Tuesday, federal authorities in upstate New York charged a Rochester-area man with terror-related charges after they say he alleged tried to buy guns to support ISIS and boasted about wanting to kill American soldiers.