Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre said Friday his office was readying to issue a statement seeking to put to rest rumors of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or Daesh, targeting Palm Coast because of certain U.S. servicemen living here.
In March, a list attributed to Daesh and circulated on the web pointed to a couple of dozen members of the military and the towns they were purportedly living in. The list included images of the servicemen, suggesting that they would be targeted. The origin of the list was never confirmed, and it appeared unreliable and error-fraught. Two of the individuals on the list were said to be residents of Palm Coast, one of them a Navy SEAL, “which turned out not to be correct,” Manfre said.
“They were not permanent residents of Palm Coast and they had not been particularly targeted, that’s what we were able to determine at that time through our investigation and talking to pour federal partners,” Manfre said. “There’s nothing that I’ve been told or informed to heighten any of our activities here in this area. I’m certain and confident that if there was I would hear about it quickly and would let the public know as well.”
Rumors began circulating anew in Palm Coast after the terrorist attack in San Bernadino on Dec. 2 carried out by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who the FBI said had pledged allegiance to Daesh and planned more attacks but appear not to have been directed by the jihadist group. The attack left 14 people dead. Farook and Malik were also killed. It was the first Daesh-related attack on American soil, coming days after attacks in Paris, Beirut and Egypt killed 394 people between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13.
“The idea that this shooting happened not in a major city but in a small community makes them feel more vulnerable that it could happen anywhere,” Manfre said. “That’s the fears I’ve been getting from everyday people approaching me and sort of trying to see if there’s any issues they should be worried about. I tell them the FBI and Homeland Security have done a great job since 9/11 of keeping local law enforcement aware of any threats” in Florida. The Flagler sheriff’s office is part of the Jacksonville area Joint Terrorist Task Force, meeting quarterly.
But the sheriff’s office is joining the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s re-launched campaign that goes by the tagline, “If you see something, say something.” The campaign was first launched by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“As the holidays approach, we remind our citizens to remain vigilant,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in a statement issued earlier this week. “It’s important that we are aware of our surroundings and report suspicious behavior to law enforcement.”
Florida initially launched the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign in 2011. Although the campaign never ended, FDLE is redistributing information to its law enforcement and media, encouraging them to disseminate the re-launch. Officials encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it to local authorities or call 1-855-FLA-SAFE (1-855-352-7233). It can also be reported online through FDLE’s website at www.fdle.state.fl.us.
Examples of suspicious activity include things like: people drawing or measuring buildings for no known reason, strangers asking questions about building security procedures or people in secure areas where they are not supposed to be, or leaving behind briefcases, suitcases, backpacks or packages.
“That’s the only way we can follow up to find out if there is something going on in our community that we need to look at,” Manfre said. “It doesn’t just extend to terrorism, it extends to crime as well.”
The see-something-say-something campaign is not, however, license for harassment, bias or vigilantism.
“I need the community to trust me as a sheriff and my deputies that we take these things seriously,” Manfre said. “But if there is not enough teeth to what we’re being told or it appears that there’s some bias, whatever that bias is, then that’s going to be taken into account in how we investigate it,” especially if the information is coming form someone whose information has been proven untrustworthy.
Manfre described the latest rumors as “an echo chamber going on about this information,” spurred by postings on Facebook and reinvigorated by assumptions rather than any solid evidence. He acknowledged public fears, but said even fears should be kept in perspective, as making people fearful is one of Daesh’s goals.
American white boy says
I love muslims as does almost all Americans I know. We will not let a paranoid braveless few that fall into the terrorists trap ruin this country. I ain’t scared of no terrorist and I’ll continue to love my fellow man
This is starting to remind me of McCarthyism at it’s worst. We need to be vigilant but still, I agree with Manfre. Cool graphic.
Bet they felt that way in San Bernardino too.
30 year Cop says
Manfre’s words mean nothing to me, he has no idea what he is doing. How he got elected twice is beyond me. I am waiting for January 2017 when a real Cop takes the helm at FCSO.
See something – say something … yeah right.
A teacher in Texas sees the “clock boy” with something they thought to be a bomb.
They said something.
The outcome … the kid sues all those involved for millions and the President honors the kid.
Who in their right mind would risk saying something after seeing something?
ey were not permanent residents of Palm Coast and they had not been particularly targeted, that’s what we were able to determine at that time through our investigation and talking to pour federal partners,” Manfre said. “There’s nothing that I’ve been told or informed to heighten any of our activities here in this area. I’m certain and confident that if there was I would hear about it quickly and would let the public know as well.”
I wonder how he would “heighten” their activities? He keeps his patrol division at a bare minimum as it is violating the city contract…but that’s no big deal I guess since no one has done anything about it.
THE VOICE OF REASON says
San Bernardino is far from a small community. It’s at the fringe of the Los Angeles metropolitan sprawl and has well over 200,000 population — larger than Birmingham, Fort Lauderdale or Salt Lake City.
Calling San Bernardino a small community would be akin to calling Fort Lauderdale a hamlet.
Dan potter says
The Japanese were not as afraid of the atomic bomb as they were of the “Firestorm”.
Children and the elderly and pregnant mothers saturated with napalm. 330 B-29’s dropped tens of thousands of pounds of napalm on a civilian population. It was described by our own pilots as horrific. The worst case of genocide in the history of man.
ISIL is planning on the same swath of terror just in a lesser dimension. I believe we will see executions by beheading here in America. The American people will be terrified just as the 105,000 souls of Tokyo that perished so many years ago by American terrorism. War is one thing but targeting civilian populations.
Dan potter says
ISIL wants us to hate Muslims. They want more transfers to radicalism. They want us to change our history and take American courage out of the picture. They love a confused America (And we are). They want America more complicated since that makes her more vulnerable.
They have better target planning than taking the time to take a Navy Seal out. They want high echelon elected officials. I’m happy just to be a nobody….We last longer.