With tens of thousands of people coming into SF and Santa Clara to watch and/or gawk at the Super Bowl Week festivities starting at the end of next week, there comes the inevitable talk of disaster preparedness and terrorism. The game on February 7 will be the single biggest, highest profile televised event to happen in the Bay Area in a long time, since Super Bowls are way more popular these days than World Series, so what might ISIS sympathizers have planned?
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent out a joint memo last week discussing possible threats, but noting that there has so far been no credible threat against the Super Bowl in particular. As ABC News reports, this is just a standard "joint special event threat assessment" and an "overview" of potentialities, with the threat of a heretofore unknown "lone wolf" terrorist, like the couple who shot up San Bernardino last fall, being probably the worst and least preventable.
CBS 5 also spoke to retired Assistant Special Agent In Charge Jeffrey Harp for further paranoid ideas.
Among the biggest fears:
- A drone attack at Levi's Stadium in which a toxin gets dispersed by air.
- A major disruption to Silicon Valley business and Bay Area financial institutions via cuts to major fiber-optic cables more on this below.
- A self-radicalized individual or individuals who have been off the feds' radar, committing an attack of unknown scale either in SF or Santa Clara.
The issue of fiber-optic cables may or may not be particularly important with regard to the Super Bowl. As the Business Times reports, the FBI now believes that over a dozen incidents of major fiber-optic connections being intentionally severed some of which we noted in brief last July could "have been used to 'prod and test' the internet networks in advance of a larger plot against the Super Bowl."
The incidents, in which agents believe crews disguised as utility workers removed manhole covers and vandalized different AT&T conduits, one as far north as Mendocino, date back to 2014 and each resulted in internet outages and slowing of high-speed data networks around the Bay Area.
Cable cuts, the most recent in September, have occurred in Fremont, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Berkeley, Livermore, and San Jose, and Harp was one of the agents who was part of the investigation into the incidents. AT&T has offered a $250,000 reward for information that could help them get to the bottom of the vandalism.
It's unclear, though, why such a cyber-based attack, which could occur at any time, would make sense connected to the Super Bowl, which isn't exactly an online event.
Separate from all this is just the fear of a gargantuan traffic nightmare in downtown SF once Super Bowl City opens on January 30. The SF San Francisco Department of Emergency Management is actually handling this, and you can subscribe to their text-alert system by dialing 888-777.