U.S. officials have warned local authorities to be on the alert for terrorist attacks over the July Fourth weekend in the wake of deadly attacks Friday by the Islamic State that killed more than 60 people on three continents.
The joint intelligence bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center was issued because of "a great deal of chatter, a high volume if you will," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul told "Fox News Sunday."
"They like to target this sort of thing," the Texas Republican said. "We're being on the cautious side here to warn the public to remain vigilant."
Islamist extremists struck Friday at a Shia mosque in Kuwait, a beachfront tourist hotel in Tunisia and a factory in France. Islamic State supporters claimed credit for all three attacks, but U.S. officials would not confirm that the group was responsible for all three.
"In all three instances ISIS was the driving force behind those attacks," McCaul said, noting that the lines between whether the group directed or inspired the attacks "have been blurred quite honestly."
"This is a new generation of terrorist using the Internet in a very savvy way," he added.
The Islamic State's ability to use social media to recruit followers and inspire and coordinate attacks globally has been a primary concern of policymakers and experts in the year since it exploded on the scene in Iraq.
The group's rise was the primary driver of a huge spike in both terrorist attacks and terrorist deaths worldwide in 2014, according to the State Department's latest report on terrorism. The number of attacks spiked 35 percent from slightly more than 11,500 to 13,463, with deaths from terrorism rising 81 percent from about 22,000 to more than 32,700.
"It's gone up exponentially," McCaul said, noting that U.S. authorities have stopped 50 terror plots on the homeland in the last 12 months.
McCaul is the sponsor of legislation that would create an Office for Countering Violent Extremism in the Homeland Security Department that would make it a priority to thwart the Islamic State's ability to recruit Americans.
"Ultimately what we're going to have to do is disrupt the ISIS narrative," retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency chief and CIA director, told Fox.
Echoing what other experts have said, Hayden noted that the Islamic State's battlefield successes are the group's best recruiting tool.
"It looks like they're acting as the will and the hand of God," he said.