U.S. security officials admit ISIS risks are 'new normal'

by Kimberly Pennington , National Correspondent |

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)Police officers patrol Times Square in New York, United States, July 3, 2015. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered heightened security measures across the state over the U.S. July Fourth holiday weekend in response to a call for vigilance by the federal government.

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- FBI Director James Comey told reporters more than 10 arrests made in the weeks leading up to July 4 helped prevent attacks planned by ISIS-inspired terrorists for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

"I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people likely in connection with July 4th," Comey told reporters Thursday at Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington, D.C. Comey provided no details regarding the identities of persons arrested or their intended targets.

"We made the arrests to thwart what we thought they were up to," Comey said. "Some of them were focused on the Fourth of July, and that's as specific as I can get."

Reuters reports another national security expert said several overseas terrorist plots by Islamic State sympathizers were also stopped.

Christian Examiner reported on June 30 that Mike Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA and CBS News senior security analyst, expressed concern about potential terrorist activity over the July 4 holiday weekend.

Morell's concern stemmed from the June 26 FBI and Homeland national security assessment bulletin which Morell saw as "anything but routine" as well as the Islamic State call to arms during the Muslim observation of Ramadan.

Comey claimed Thursday security officials now view the increased risk level as the "new normal."

Encrypted data technological is partly to blame for the increased threat according to Comey who estimated dozens of people influenced by IS have "gone dark" and disappeared from FBI watch because of it.

Another Reuter's U.S. security source said some of those arrested were communicating with Islamic State by encrypted data. The FBI has asked technology corporations to remove encryption features which provide user privacy levels impenetrable by law enforcement officials.

According to an NBC News report, Comey told Congress on Wednesday the growth of encryption technology makes the task of tracking potential ISIS followers increasingly more difficult.

President Barack Obama sees progress in the war against ISIS. According to Newsweek, the President recently claimed ISIL had lost more than 25 percent of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq. "ISIL's strategic weaknesses are real," Obama said.

Claiming the terrorist organization is recruiting primarily from Muslim communities around the world and that ISIS distorts Islam, the President also asserted ideology rather than military force will defeat the Islamic terrorist group and those inspired by it.

"In order for us to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda, we must discredit their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas. We will never be at war with Islam," Obama said.