New York Man Who Attempted to Join ISIS Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison; Lakewood Public Schools Requiring Students to Use Clear Backpacks, Walk Through Metal Detectors; Burlington County Allocates Funding to Strengthen Building Security at Public High Schools
California Man Planning to Attack Tourist Attraction Admits Attempting to Support ISIS
A Modesto, California, man who plotted to attack a popular tourist attraction during the holiday season pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS, prosecutors announced on June 4. Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, discussed plans with an FBI informant and undercover agents to use explosives in an attack targeting Pier 39 in San Francisco on Christmas Day in 2017. The FBI began investigating in September when the informant reported pro-ISIS and pro-terrorism posts on Jameson’s social media accounts. Jameson talked about his desire to support ISIS with the informant, and he noted to one of the undercover agents that his military experience prepared him for war and combat. In a meeting with the other agent he believed worked for ISIS’s senior leadership, Jameson said he chose Pier 39 due to the large crowds and that explosives would funnel people out so he could shoot those trying to escape. He also offered financial support to ISIS. Authorities arrested Jameson on December 22. Under terms of a plea deal, he will receive 15 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release when he is sentenced on September 4.
Man Who Plotted to Detonate Bomb in Support of ISIS at Miami Mall Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison
A Honduran citizen residing in Miami received a sentence of 17.5 years followed by a lifetime of supervised release on June 1 for planning to detonate an explosive device at a shopping mall, federal prosecutors said. Vicente Adolfo Solano, 53, caught the attention of the FBI when he talked to an informant about being angry with the United States and having a desire to attack a crowded area at the Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater, Florida. Solano expressed that he wanted to join ISIS and produced three propaganda videos with statements favoring the terrorist group to prove his dedication. Two undercover agents and the informant met with Solano on several occasions to discuss his plans for conducting the attack. The agents provided Solano with a fake bomb, and he was arrested on October 20 as he attempted to arm the inert device while approaching the entrance of the mall. The judge imposed a sentence less than the maximum of 20 years because Solano, whose temporary protected status in the United States had been removed, is currently in removal proceedings and will return to Honduras following his prison term. Solano pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS on March 14.
30 Active Homemade Pipe Bombs Discovered in Wooded Area in North Carolina
A surveyor working in a wooded area near Roxboro, North Carolina, on June 4 found 30 suspicious devices later determined to be homemade pipe bombs, the Person County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities called in the help of the bomb squad from a nearby county to assist in searching the area over three days. Dewey Jones noted that while the devices were not in a state of being ready to fire, “they could have been armed very quickly.” All of the pipe bombs discovered at the scene were destroyed. The FBI is investigating a person of interest, but that individual has not been arrested. The sheriff’s office noted that it does not believe this was an act of terrorism. Jones characterized the individual under investigation by the FBI as a “preparing for doomsday type of person.” Authorities are not aware of who owns the land where the pipe bombs were found. Several residents forced to evacuate the area have since been allowed to return to their homes.
Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are individuals inspired—as opposed to directed—by a foreign terrorist organization and radicalized in the countries in which they are born, raised, or reside.
HVEs pose the greatest threat to New Jersey and will likely remain so this year.
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HAMAS, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya, or the “Islamic Resistance Movement,” founded in 1987, is an offshoot of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.
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Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) is a Pakistani-based Islamic extremist group founded in the late 1980s as the terrorist wing of Markaz ud Dawa ul-Irshad, a Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist mission organization, according the US State Department.
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- Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is forbidden,” is an Islamic extremist organization based in northeastern Nigeria that pledged allegiance to ISIS in March 2015. In August 2016, ISIS unilaterally announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi would replace Abubakar Shekau as the leader of Boko Haram. Shekau refused to cede authority, and Boko Haram militants remain factionalized in their loyalties.
- Since 2009, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million. In 2014, the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from a village in northeastern Nigeria. In October 2016, 22 of the schoolgirls were rescued following negotiations with the Nigerian government, 83 more were freed in May 2017, and an additional 57 escaped as of September 2017.
- Boko Haram fatalities remained relatively consistent, from 3,484 in 2016 to 3,329 in 2017, according to research from BBC Monitoring. The group reportedly carried out 150 attacks in 2017, up from the 127 attacks in 2016, defying Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that the militants have been defeated. Nigeria was the most frequently attacked location in 2017, with armed assault as the most common attack method.
- In November 2014, a regional Multinational Joint Task Force consisting of approximately 8,700 military personnel from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria was established to combat Boko Haram. Currently, there is considerable skepticism in the international community that the force can deliver results, as the group continues to operate within these countries.
Threat to New Jersey: Low
Boko Haram has never conducted an attack in the United States and is largely focused on kidnapping Westerners in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. Further, Boko Haram’s operational capability is limited due to group infighting since pledging allegiance to ISIS.
- Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for at least five kidnappings of Westerners since 2012. In July 2017, Boko Haram insurgents ambushed an oil exploration team in northeastern Nigeria, kidnapping at least 10 and killing more than 50. Following the kidnapping, the group released a video in English showing three abductees asking viewers to meet the captors’ demands. In 2017, Boko Haram, to buy weapons and recruit fighters, used ransom money that the Nigerian government paid to free 83 Chibok schoolgirls.
- In September 2016, militants loyal to ISIS-appointed al-Barnawi clashed with those loyal to Shekau, resulting in the death of several key members of Shekau’s faction. ISIS and Boko Haram both claimed responsibility for approximately 13 of 151 attacks carried out by Boko Haram in 2017, suggesting operational links between the two groups are weak. The disparate nature of Boko Haram may make it difficult for ISIS to issue claims, as it cannot verify which faction is behind an attack.
Boko Haram is unlikely to inspire homegrown violent extremists in the United States because of its prioritization of local Nigerian issues over global extremist narratives and its focus on carrying out attacks locally. Although the group has only attacked US interests regionally, the US Government has expressed concern that the threat from the group could spread to justify military action.
- Boko Haram’s media outreach focuses exclusively on regional issues, including criticism of the Nigerian government, calls for violence against civilians, and demands for an Islamic state in Nigeria. The group’s language does not include any encouragement of Westerners to travel and join its ranks.
- In March 2017, Nigerian authorities disrupted an alleged Boko Haram-orchestrated plot to attack the US and British embassies in the capital city of Abuja. Five suspects were arrested after they “perfected plans” for the attack.
- In June 2017, a letter was sent to Congress outlining current US Armed Forces deployments, including Cameroon, where “approximately 300 US military personnel are also deployed, the bulk of whom are supporting US airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations” on Boko Haram fighters. This deployment marks the most direct US involvement to date in the campaign against Boko Haram.
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The US Department of Homeland Security divides the Commercial Facilities Sector into eight sub-sectors that encompass public assembly and outdoor events.
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In 2018, ISIS will likely adjust its focus internally while targeting regional enemies, relying on sympathizers to remain loyal to the group, and encouraging members who left the group to return.
Al-Qa’ida and ISIS leverage a number of communication platforms to disseminate English-language propaganda in order to recruit sympathizers and inspire attacks globally. This reference guide can assist our law enforcement partners in the identification and recognition of imagery related to these groups.
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TTP poses a low threat to New Jersey due to territorial losses in Pakistan and internal conflict constraining the group to regional operations, despite prior plots targeting the United States.
A Canadian intentionally drove a rented van onto a sidewalk in Toronto on April 23, killing 10 and injuring at least 15. The incident remains under investigation. Authorities have not yet disclosed any motive of the driver, identified as Alek Minassian; however, they believe there is no nexus to terrorism. This is Canada’s fourth vehicle-ramming incident since 2014.
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