Police identify potential ISIS-linked threat to Virginia shoppers; increase presence at malls

ByLuke Barr and Jack Date ABCNews logo
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Police identify potential ISIS-linked threat to Virginia shoppers
A potential threat to Northern Virginia malls came from intelligence possibly linked to ISIS.

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Numerous police departments in Northern Virginia say the public can expect to see expanded police presence at shopping malls, public centers and gatherings over the Halloween weekend in response to a potential threat.

The potential threat to shopping malls emanated from intelligence possibly linked to ISIS, according to multiple law enforcement and intelligence sources. The credibility of the information is still being assessed, sources said.

An FBI spokesperson said in a statement, "We have no comment. However, we would remind you the FBI takes all potential threats to public safety seriously and we take all appropriate steps to determine the credibility of any information we receive."

The Arlington County Police Department issued a statement calling it a "potential public safety threat."

"The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is aware of information circulating regarding a non-specific, unconfirmed threat to shopping centers," it said in the statement. "There is no specific or identified threat to our region. As always, the public is encouraged to remain attentive as you go about your normal routine, particularly in areas where large crowds of people typically gather such as shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services, and public transportation hubs to name a few."

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Chief Kevin Davis of the Fairfax County Police Department said at a press conference Friday the the intelligence concerns "potential public safety impacts to malls and shopping centers across the region."

"We're taking it seriously," Davis said. "We're simply being proactive."

"We're acting with an abundance of caution in the best interest of those who reside here," he said.

The chief did not provide details on what the threat was, but urged the public to be vigilant.

Davis called this a "regional matter" with information from collaborative sharing.

"It's information we're acting on by establishing a greater presence where people gather," Davis explained. "We're taking the appropriate responsible actions to ensure that the community knows that we take all information about their safety seriously."

Other departments, such as the Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department, Loudoun County Sheriff's Office and Prince William County Sheriff's Office, offered similar warnings.