HOUSTON - Federal authorities are worried the terrorist group al-Qaeda could strike the day before Election Day, and Texas is one of three states mentioned as a potential target.
The threat is not specific to Houston or any other city in Texas, but it has everyone from the governor’s office to Houston police on alert and monitoring the situation.
Officials had already warned about the possibility of violence round polling places, but a new alert from the intelligence community saying al-Qaeda could be planning attacks in New York, Virginia and Texas on Monday.
“It means that they certainly have concrete information from somewhere that mentions those particular places. They wouldn’t put a statement out there unless there was a source,” said Professor Emily Berman who teaches national security law at the University of Houston Law Center. “Somewhere out there, someone has said or written some sort of threat that they feel it would be irresponsible not to alert the public.”
There’s no specific threat against Houston, but with 6 million people in the metro area, the large port and oil industry, the nation’s fourth-largest city could be a terror target. Just last month, 24-year-old Omar Al Hardan pleaded guilty to supporting ISIS. He was accused in a plot to blow up the Galleria.
Governor Greg Abbott said his office is working with law enforcement and DPS to monitor the situation. He released the following statement:
“Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement."
U.S. authorities are taking the threat seriously but say it is still being assessed, and the credibility has not been confirmed.
“These threats are always out there,” Berman said. “There’s people who always look for opportunities to attack, and to a certain extent, you just have to live your life. Otherwise you are giving in to what they want. They want us to be afraid, to turn against each other.”
KHOU has been in touch with Houston police. HPD says it doesn’t discuss threats, but it is always monitoring the environment and will act accordingly.