Local terror expert talks possibility of ISIS threat

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A local terror expert speaks about the possibility of an ISIS strike in the United States. (WPVI)

A local counter-terrorism expert says, with everything going on abroad with ISIS, the intelligence community should be on high alert.

"When you look at the National Threat Advisory System, we're probably in between what's called, 'Elevated' and 'Imminent,' said Professor Jeffrey Tomlinson, DeSales University.

Tomlinson is the former supervisor of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Philadelphia.

He says with ISIS showing such ruthlessness in the mass killings of people in Syria and the kidnappings and beheadings of two American journalists, there should be no mistake of the threat the terror group poses.

"My concern with ISIS is their flexibility, adaptability and their ability to move," said Tomlinson.

He says, in the world of U.S. Intelligence, they have to work with the assumption that ISIS is already here and then try to prove or disprove that.

Tomlinson's biggest concern is that ISIS is getting help from American citizens, making it harder for them to be tracked.

"It raises that concern of who is inside the U.S., who has traveled? Why have they traveled? What's the pattern been? And so it raises the ability of them to move and strike," he said.

Knowing what he knows about counter-terrorism, Tomlinson says U.S. Intelligence analysts have been looking at potential targets of ISIS here in the U.S. and abroad.

"You would look at transportation, you would look at nuclear, you would look at your energy sector and transportation sector and try to make a determination of their vulnerability," said Tomlinson.

He says theses terror groups are infamous at putting out disinformation.

One example Tomlinson points to is Al Qaeda claiming that ISIS is too extreme for them.

"Is it convenient for them to be, 'off the radar' by saying, 'ISIS is too extreme for us?' When they orchestrated the 9/11 attacks? I suspect not but it could buy them time to do things out of view," he said.

In the days leading up to the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Tomlinson says his advice to the public: if it doesn't look right or feel right, then report it and let authorities sort it out.
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