Feds warn of threat to attack churches, holiday gatherings

FBI asks for vigilance after threatening Telegram messaging app posts

MIAMI – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement agencies in Florida on Friday about threats from Islamic State sympathizers.

FBI spokesman Andrew Ames advised the public to maintain awareness of their surroundings and report suspicious activity. 

"The FBI is aware of the recent link published online that urges attacks against U.S. churches," Ames said. "As with similar threats, the FBI is tracking this matter while we investigate its credibility."

An instant messaging service user named after Seneia's suicide bomber posted a message in Arabic to the group "Secrets of Jihadis" on Telegram, a Russian cloud-based messaging app, according to Vocativ. The user called for lone wolf attackers to "turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie."

The FBI's warning about the possibility of attacks in the U.S. comes after Monday's killing of 12 people at a Christmas market in Germany and the arrest of armed suspects threatening Christmas Day attacks in Australia. 

Among the cases of American Islamic State sympathizers the U.S. Attorney's Office is handling is Sebastian Gregerson, who prosecutors accused of amassing weapons on behalf of the Islamic State. The 30-year-old father of two from Detroit is in a federal prison in Milan.  

Omar Mateen, who killed 49 and wounded 53 in June at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing. Three years before the attack, the FBI investigated Mateen over radicalization concerns. 

FLASHBACK |  Remembering Pulse Nightclub victims

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