ISIS Paranoia Reaches America

The Islamic State

For now, the Islamic State poses no specific, credible threat to the United States, according to the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and multiple intelligence sources.

But that hasn't stopped news stations and politicians from being on high alert for the possibility of the group, commonly known as ISIS, springing into action on U.S. soil.

"They are coming," GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in August, describing the group as "a direct threat to our homeland" and criticizing the president for not being "honest" about the threat the group poses.

The media and high-ranking officials are describing the group, also referred to as ISIL, and the threat it poses "in lurid terms that are not justified," Daniel Benjamin, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser during his first term and now a scholar at Dartmouth College, told The New York Times.

"It's hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic," Benjamin said.

Local news stations have pounced on tenuous stories that the terror group might have American towns and cities in its sights. The latest comes from Houston ABC affiliate ABC13 Eyewitness News, which reported on the following photo making the rounds on Facebook:

"Eyewitness News has been working to get some real answers or responses about the picture that's going around, but it's more difficult than you may think," the station reported. Special Agent Shauna Dunlap tells Newsweek that the FBI was not aware of "any specific or credible information which indicates there's a threat to the Houston area at this time."

Before Houston, ISIS appeared to have turned its malevolent gaze toward Chicago in the form of an "ominous tweet," according to Chicago CBS affiliate CBS2. But Special Agent Joan Hyde told Newsweek that "there is currently no credible specific threat to Chicago or the U.S."

On the nation's southern border, Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog organization, released a report claiming that "Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez."

These Islamic terrorist groups, including ISIS, planned to exploit the U.S.'s porous southern border to infiltrate Southern states, the report said. A spokesman for the homeland security department told the Daily Mail, however, that "we are aware of absolutely nothing credible to substantiate this claim."

Attention is now moving to the Khorasan group, introduced to many Americans in a statement by Obama on Monday, as a group of Al-Qaeda operatives who are plotting attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

The threat level of the group is already the subject of confused speculation. In a single paragraph, CNN quotes two anonymous U.S. officials, one of whom insists Khorasan is "an imminent threat." The other asserts: "The threat was not imminent in the sense that there were no known targets or attacks expected in the next few weeks."