The United States is to boost security at government buildings in Washington and other cities due to continuing terrorist threats and off the back of last week’s attacks in Canada.The “precise actions” and “precise locations” were not specified in the statement by the secretary of homeland security, Jeh Johnson, who said they would vary, shift and “be continually re-evaluated”.Mr Johnson warned US state and local security services
to be on their guard, especially for possible “small-scale attacks by a lone offender or a small group of individuals”.The Federal Protective Service oversees security at more than 9,500 federal facilities, which see some 1.4 million visitors and occupants daily.Last Thursday, 32-year-old Zale Thompson was shot and killed after he charged at a group of police officers with a hatchet as they posed for a photograph in the New York City borough of Queens.Police said Thompson was a self-radicalised convert to Islam who is believed to have acted alone.Also last week, Canadian Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot dead a soldier at Canada’s war memorial in Ottawa and charged into parliament, exchanging fire with security officers before being shot dead.Police said Zehaf-Bibeau made a video of himself before the attack which provided evidence that he had ideological and political motives.
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In the other Canadian attack, 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had been on a watch list of suspected extremists, used his car as a weapon to run over two soldiers in a parking lot, killing one of them before being shot dead by police.Both assailants were converts to Islam with alleged extremists views, police have said.The reasons for the security boost is self-evident said homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, citing “continued public calls by terrorist organisations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere”.Canada is a member of the alliance Washington has forged with Western and Arab nations to combat Islamic State militants, which seized large parts of Syria and Iraq in recent months, declaring an Islamic caliphate and committing widespread atrocities.The group has called for foreign fighters to join them, and promoted attacks by disaffected Muslims on Western targets.Unauthorised cyber access triggers alertSuspicious cyber activity has been detected on the computer network used by the White House and measures have been taken to address it, a White House official as disclosed.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say who might have been responsible for the activity on what was described as an unclassified computer network used by employees of the Executive Office of the President.”In the course of assessing recent threats we identified activity of concern on the unclassified EOP network,” the official said.”Any such activity is something that we take very seriously.”A second administration official said there were no indications at this time if classified networks had been affected.The White House, like many government entities in Washington, frequently faces cyber threats. AFP/Reuters