Rev. Franklin Graham has responded to the FBI's revelation that there are "hundreds, maybe thousands" of people across the country who are receiving recruitment overtures from the Islamic State to attack the U.S., emphasizing that the terror group must "remember that in America, we shoot back."
On Thursday, FBI Director James Comey revealed that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is leveraging social media in unprecedented ways through Twitter and other social media platforms, sending messages to the smartphones of "disturbed people'' who could potentially launch assaults on U.S. targets.
"It's like the devil sitting on their shoulders, saying 'kill, kill, kill,''' Comey said in a meeting with reporters, ABC News reports.
He explained that ISIS recruiters operating from Syria are making contact with U.S. recruits, and then "steering'' them into encrypted venues where their subsequent communications are "lost to us.''
"The haystack is the entire country,'' Comey said. "We are looking for the needles, but increasingly the needles are unavailable to us. ... This is the 'going dark' problem in living color. There are [ISIS sympathizers] out there that I have not found and I cannot see.''
In a Facebook post on Friday, Rev. Franklin Graham, who is the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, offered some harsh words for sympathizers of the terrorist group.
"The FBI warned yesterday that there could be hundreds or maybe even thousands of ISIS sympathizers in America, and they are being instructed to carry out deadly attacks on U.S. targets," Graham wrote. "I pray this never happens. May God protect our country. I don't advocate violence, but I do believe in self-defense. ISIS needs to remember that in America, we shoot back."
Graham's comments, which were "liked" by nearly 73,000 people and "shared" by another 31,000, were made in the wake of a federal investigation into a failed attack in Garland, Texas, involving two ISIS sympathizers, Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson
The 30-year-old Simpson and 34 year-old-Soofi, both U.S. citizens, were fatally shot by a police officer Sunday night after the pair launched an attack on a conference featuring controversial cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed.
At the time, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement released on Al Bayan radio, the terror group declared, "We say to the defenders of the cross, the U.S., that future attacks are going to be harsher and worse... The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of Allah. The future is just around the corner."
Amid growing concern of a jihadist threat within the country, security conditions at U.S. military bases were raised Thursday night. According to CNN, U.S. military bases are now at "Force Protection Bravo," which is defined by the Pentagon as an "increased and predictable threat of terrorism."
"We are doing this as a prudent measure due to a lot of things in the news lately," Captain Jeff Davis, spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command which oversees all U.S. military installations in the continental U.S. said, CNN reports. "While this change is not tied to a specific credible threat, recent events have led us to recognize the need to take prudent steps to ensure that our security measures can be increased quickly."
"This is the new normal that we are going to have increased vigilance and force protection. We seek to be unpredictable," he added.