July 24, 2012
In June, the Public Intelligence website posted a DHS-FBI bulletin warning that terrorists planned to attack theaters in the United States. The official use only “Roll Call Release” issued on May 17 states that terrorists have an interest in attacking theaters and “similar mass gatherings.”
“An early April 2012 suicide bombing of a theater in Somalia and a violent extremist communication advocating attacks on US theaters highlight terrorists’ continued interest in attacking such venues,” the unclassified document explains. “Although we have no specific or credible information indicating that terrorists plan to attack theaters in the United States, terrorists may seek to emulate overseas attacks on theaters here in the United States because they have the potential to inflict mass casualties and cause local economic damage.”
The DHS and FBI cited an alleged call by al-Qaeda to replicate the 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theater hostage attack. The attackers, described as Chechens who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya, held 850 hostages in the theater for two and a half days. The siege came to an end after Russian Spetsnaz forces pumped a chemical agent into a theater, killing 129 hostages and 39 attackers.
Chechen rebel armies received training from the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI respectively. The leadership of the Chechen armies underwent “intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,” according to Levon Sevunts, writing for The Gazette in Montreal in 1999.
The DHS and FBI encouraged theater owners to monitor their patrons and report any suspicious behavior to them. “These recent instances [in Mogadishu, Somalia ] demonstrate that mass gatherings such as those associated with theaters likely remain attractive terrorist targets. We encourage facility owners and operators, security personnel, and first responders to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities and behaviors that may indicate a potential attack.”
Movie theaters will now be included in the Department of Homeland Security’s Constitution free Gestapo zone – along with mass transit hubs, hotels, and sports stadiums – that is now rapidly expanding from the confines of the nation’s airports. In 2010, the mega-agency announced it planned to step up “security at ‘soft targets’ like hotels and shopping malls, as well as trains and ports, as it counters the evolving Al-Qaeda threat,” according to AFP.
“A decade after the terrorist attacks, at ballparks and concerts, bag checks are now common when entering a venue. Sometimes, there are metal detector wand scans at sporting events. Some movie theaters already have random bag checks” and are looking at “additional measures,” reports Security InfoWatch.