On November 29 a jihadist media group published an image suggesting San Diego could be in the crosshairs of terrorists this holiday season. The San Diego California Temple in University City appears to be their target of choice.
An image of a terrorist holding an assault rifle was superimposed on the Mormon temple, which appears to be on fire. The two towering spires rise up on either side of the jihadist. A statement at the bottom of the image reads, “Coming Soon..#San_Diego.” The words “Coming Soon” are wrapped in Christmas decorations and splattered with red.
The same media group has recently published other calls for terrorism during the holiday season and made threats against other religious sites. On November 22 they published an image of a militant facing the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican with a wolf and an RPG launcher next to him. Many other calls for lone-wolf attacks were published, including vehicular attacks in Manhattan and another targeting the Vatican with the words “Christmas Blood.”
An increased police presence was noticed around the temple in University City since news of the image broke. The temple’s website states at the top of the page, “Temple closed today and tomorrow.”
Salt Lake City's KUTV News covered the story and were issued the following statement by the FBI: “At this time the FBI is not aware of any specific and credible threat to our community. The FBI regularly assesses intelligence regarding possible threats to the U.S. and its interests abroad. We urge law enforcement and the public to remain vigilant. Members of the public should maintain awareness of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. The FBI will continue working with federal, state, and local partners should there be any potential threat to public safety.”
University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora, a counterterrorism expert, was interviewed for their story. He urged the threat should be taken seriously and pointed out that terrorists mean what they say.
There are resources that help the public partner with law enforcement in keeping watch over our communities. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department published a list of warning signs of terrorism and how to report suspicious behavior.
"Eight Signs of Terrorism"
“Ready San Diego” provides information about San Diego’s Fusion Center, how to sign up to receive emergency alerts, and how to download San Diego’s emergency preparedness app.
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, county sheriff Bill Gore presented the “If you see something say something” campaign, which gives the following eight signs of terrorism: surveillance, elicitation, testing security, funding, acquiring supplies, impersonation, rehearsal and deployment.
The most important thing to remember, as Professor Guiora stated, “You don’t want people to stay home, because if you stay home then terrorism wins.”