U.S. Tightens Security at Federal Buildings After Paris Attacks

The Obama administration said it’s tightening security at federal government buildings nationwide and increasing random checks of airline passengers in the wake of terror attacks last week in Paris that killed 17 people.

The steps announced Monday weren’t prompted by any specific or credible intelligence that an attack like those in France last week was being planned by terrorist groups for the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. He said that public calls by extremist groups for attacks on Western interest justified the measures.

“Given world events, this is a time for heightened vigilance by federal, state and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, as well as the public,” Johnson said.

The heightened security was disclosed by the U.S. as French authorities deployed about 15,000 security forces to hunt for accomplices in the worst terror attacks in Paris in more than half a century. The search for accomplices was prompted in part by a seven-minute video in which one of the gunmen in the attacks declared allegiance to the Islamic State.

Along with the incidents in Paris, Johnson cited the attack on the Canadian legislature in Ottawa and the taking of hostages at a café in Sydney as reasons for increasing security at federal installations and enhancing the screening of travelers.

Random Checks

Johnson said he directed the Transportation Security Administration last week to increase the number of random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage boarding aircraft at U.S. airports. That follows measures announced in July, he said, that boosted screening at some foreign airports that are the final points of departure to the U.S.

The TSA, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, will conduct a review to determine whether additional measures are needed at domestic and international airports, Johnson said.

The moves were announced by Johnson hours after hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group took over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command, posting threatening messages on the feeds that were later taken down.

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