While there is no specific or credible threat at the moment, security preparation has been designed to reflect the national importance of the high-profile event, he said, adding that it is occurring amid heightened concerns about domestic terrorism nationwide following last month’s attack on the Capitol building by a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
On Jan. 27, the DHS issued a rare National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin concerning a “heightened threat environment across the United States” that will persist for weeks following the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Security event planning for the Super Bowl, which is designated a Special Event Assessment Rating 1, began more than a year ago but the attack on the Capitol has caused law enforcement to put “greater emphasis” into investigating and intelligence gathering concerning such threats, he said.
Pekoske added that the game is not only a target for domestic terrorists but also for transnational terrorists and inspired so-called lone wolf actors.
“The Internet has made it possible for terrorists across the globe to radicalize and train people in the United States,” he said, adding the event is also attractive to other criminals, such as human traffickers and counterfeit goods sellers.
“So we never take our eye off the ball,” he said.
Scott McAllister of the DHS said there will be flight restrictions in the area in the lead up to the game up to 30-nautical miles enforced by Blackhawk and other aircraft.
In response to a reporter’s question concerning sightings of a low-flying helicopter in the area, McAllister said the aircraft was taking a footprint of the normal radiological level of Tampa in order for officials to pick up any such irregularities during the game.
“It’s an effort in order to look for any kind of threat that would be posed by a radiological effort,” he said.
More than 70 local, state, private and public law enforcement agencies will be working to ensure the security of the game along with some 500 DHS personnel, officials said.