- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security will more frequently provide official updates on terror threats against the U.S. through a retooling of its National Terrorism Advisory System — issuing its first such advisory Wednesday.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said the update to the agency’s advisory system includes the addition of an intermediate threat level bulletin encompassing “general trends regarding threats of terrorism.”

The bulletin issued Wednesday warns of the rise of terrorist groups’ use of the Internet to inspire and recruit individuals as well as concern over self-radicalization of individuals who may look to carry out an attack with little or no notice.

The husband and wife behind the deadly shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, are believed to have self-radicalized as early as 2013, and FBI officials have said neither Syed Rizwan Farook nor his Pakistan-born wife, Tashfeen Malik, were on their radar ahead of the attack.

“People are anxious now,” Mr. Johnson said during a Wednesday briefing on the new alert system. “They should know and need to know what their government is doing to protect our homeland.”

The new bulletin alerts, which consist of a 1-page notice published on the DHS website, will allow federal officials to keep the public apprised of general threats as they become known.

DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places,” the bulletin states. “As we saw in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.”

The bulletin issued Wednesday will stay active through June, but Mr. Johnson said additional bulletins could be issued as necessary.

“My goal is to be able to issue these promptly,” said Mr. Johnson, adding that DHS should be able to release future bulletins on a day’s notice.

The current system, which replaced the previous color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System adopted in 2002, had never been used in its prior configuration because it required a high bar for deployment — evidence of either a credible or specific threat.

“We were relying upon a model for how we inform the public that does not accurately take account of the current environment,” Mr. Johnson said.

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