Northern Virginia police departments increase presence amid purported ISIS threat against shopping malls

Police in Northern Virginia are increasing their presence around shopping malls and high-volume roads and transit areas in response to a purported threat from ISIS.

A law enforcement source told CBS News the recent threat against a mall in Northern Virginia this Halloween weekend originated from ISIS. It is the basis for a law enforcement-sensitive alert that was issued.

Out of an abundance of caution, Fairfax County’s police chief said his department is ready to respond if the threat materializes.

Chief Kevin Davis said he learned of the threat through regional intelligence partners in the last 24 hours. While he wouldn’t describe it in detail, Davis said his department is responding in-kind.

“We have ramped up our presence at places where people shop, at places where people recreate, gather, dine. It’s our responsibility to do that we routinely do this,” Davis said at a news conference Friday.

Fairfax County officers expect to be on high alert around holidays, he said, but there is more reason to be cautious going into next week.

“We have an election coming up next Tuesday where we’ll have increased patrols throughout the next several days out of an abundance of caution, because that’s what we do as a public safety agency,” Davis said.

The Arlington County Police Department said they had heard the “non-specific, unconfirmed threat to shopping centers.” They recommended that shoppers remain attentive while going about their normal routine, especially in large crowds of people.

Arlington police said they will be deploying additional police in the county for the weekend.

Prince William County police said they are aware of the reports, and will be working with fellow law enforcement agencies in the area to share information.

“While we have not received any credible information of a threat, we do ask our community to remain vigilant while we continue working with our law enforcement partners to ensure everyone remains safe,” Prince William police said in a statement.

The Loudoun County Sherriff’s Office said while nothing about the threat is specific to the county, it will collaborate with local, regional, state and federal law enforcement partners while expanding patrols in high-visibility locations. The Leesburg Police Department added that residents should report any suspicious activity by calling 911.

WTOP reached out to the FBI, which had no comment but said it takes all potential threats to public safety seriously.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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