Don't change your Thanksgiving holiday plans: US Homeland Security Chief

US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is urging Americans to not change their Thanksgiving holiday plans.
US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is urging Americans to not change their Thanksgiving holiday plans.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on Sunday urged Americans to not change their plans for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend holiday despite the recent terror attack in Paris.

"We have no specific credible intelligence about a threat of the Paris type directed at the homeland here," said Johnson, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press talkshow.

"With this holiday season coming up we want the public to continue to go to public events, celebrate the holiday season, travel, be with their families and the like."

Officials are expecting three million people at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. "It's going to be a great event and it will be a safe and secure event," he said.

Johnson, however, cautioned that officials "are always concerned about potential copycat homegrown violent extremism of the type we have seen in recent month and years". The head of the House Intelligence Committee, however, expressed concerns that use of the so-called "dark" communications by extremists could make plots harder to detect.

In Paris, gunmen struck without warning Nov 13, killing 130 people in near simultaneous attacks at several points across the city.

"The only rationale, explanation I have is that they were using these dark platforms in dark space to communicate that, even if we have a court order, we can't see. And if you can't see what they're saying, it's very difficult to stop it," said Michael McCaul.

"So, while Homeland Security officials can say there's no specific and credible threat, I think you need to factor in that analysis that there may be plots under way and communications under way that we just, quite frankly, can't see," he said on CBS's Face the Nation.

New York officials have urged residents to stay calm following the release of a video from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group threatening to attack the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton even went to Times Square in the middle of the night recently to reassure residents.

"There is no specific and credible threat against New York City. So it's crucial that people go about their normal business," de Blasio said.

"We understand that we are a terrorist target," Bratton said. "But do not be afraid. The NYPD will protect you."