This is a security risk you should expect in Afghanistan, not in America.
With Pope Francis set to begin his first-ever U.S. visit Tuesday, a document obtained by NBC News shows law enforcement is worried terrorists may impersonate police officers, firefighters and EMTs to launch deadly attacks inside the U.S.
A memo distributed by the Pennsylvania State Police’s Criminal Intelligence Center to law enforcement warns that imposters pretending to be first responders could use false identification to enter secure areas and wreak havoc before slipping away undetected.
“The impersonators’ main goals are to further their attack plan and do harm to unsuspecting citizens as well as members of the emergency services community,” said the bulletin, titled “First Responder Impersonators: The New Terrorist Threat.”
The document — which does not mention the papal visit but was issued just days before the event — cited instances at home and abroad where suspects donned or were in possession of police uniforms in a bid to carry out an attack. It was based in part on Homeland Security and FBI reports.
In March, U.S. authorities said they derailed plans by Army National Guard soldier Hasan Edmonds, 22, and his cousin to kill dozens at a U.S. military installation in Illinois using his uniforms.
The two men, who federal authorities said wanted to fight for ISIS in the Middle East, have been charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Read more: NBC News