STATEMENT BY SECRETARY JEH C. JOHNSON ON THE ATTACKS IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
As the President said, we stand in solidarity with the Belgian people in condemning the terrorist attacks that occurred in Brussels, we mourn the loss of those killed, and we will do what we can to help Belgian authorities bring to justice those responsible for the attacks.
At present, we have no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in the United States. That said, we remain very focused on the threat posed by lone terrorist actors who may lack direct connection to a foreign terrorist organization; we are concerned that such radicalized individuals or small groups could carry out an attack in the Homeland with little warning. We also remain very engaged in the effort to identify and disrupt foreign terrorist fighters who may seek to travel to or from the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security, along with our partners in federal law enforcement and the intelligence community, are doing a number of things to monitor events in Brussels, work with the authorities there, and continue to secure our Homeland.
First, our personnel have an excellent working relationship with Belgian authorities, and we continually receive information about the attacks and those who may have been involved. Since the Paris attacks in November, we have enhanced information sharing about potential terrorist threats with both Belgian and French authorities, and we will continue this effort.
Second, though we do not require Belgian citizens to have a visa to travel here for business or tourism purposes, both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have procedures in place to identify and prevent travel here from Belgium by individuals of suspicion. All travelers arriving in the United States are vetted against the U.S. Terrorist Screening Database, regardless of whether they arrive with a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). We continually evaluate whether more screening is necessary, particularly in light of today’s attacks.
Third, as a precautionary measure, TSA is deploying additional security to major city airports in the United States, and at various rail and transit stations around the country. TSA is also working closely with state and local law enforcement, airport authorities, and the aviation industry in order to augment that security.
Fourth, we and the FBI have been in communication today with state and local law enforcement, to share the latest about what we know of today’s attacks in Belgium. State and local law enforcement are themselves enhancing their security posture as they deem appropriate. We are also in regular communication with organizations representing the private sector to share with them what we know.
There are also a number of other security measures we are taking that are not suitable for public disclosure.
As I have said many times, “If You See Something, Say SomethingTM” is more than a slogan. Public awareness and vigilance are vital to our homeland security efforts, and have in fact prevented terrorist or criminal acts in the past. In today’s environment, we urge the public to continue to travel, visit public events and places, and continue with their daily lives, but at all times be aware and vigilant. You may report threats of suspicious activity to the FBI or your local authorities. Information about how to contact an FBI Field Office can be found at http://www.fbi/contact-us/field. Community leaders, co-workers, friends and family can help by recognizing signs of potential radicalization to violence. For more information visit: https://nsi.ncirc.gov.
Additionally, I encourage those U.S. citizens in Belgium who may be affected by these attacks to try contacting their loved ones via social media first. That often works better than cell phones, when usage levels stress local cellular capabilities. U.S. citizens in Belgium injured by the attacks should contact the Belgian Crisis Center by dialing 1771, or the U.S. Embassy at 028114000. U.S. citizens in the U.S. who are concerned about those who may be affected by the attacks should call the State Department hotline 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada (or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the State Department’s travel website, www.travel.state.gov, for more information and to inform the Department of State of your travel plans using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
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