Last October, Sayfullo Saipov—a New Jersey resident—drove a truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring 11. While this horrific attack occurred in New York City, Saipov lived and planned his attack in New Jersey. For homeland security professionals, this is a stark reminder that individuals who want to disrupt our way of life are here and are willing to travel across state lines to execute attacks. Furthermore, this case demonstrated that while groups like ISIS are suffering battlefield losses overseas, they are still capable of inspiring individuals here.
In the year ahead, homegrown violent extremists will remain our most persistent adversary. This is largely due to the fact that the violence these individuals are committed to carrying out is so challenging for homeland security professionals and law enforcement officials to detect and deter. Couple this with the dramatic rise in violence between race-based, single-issue, and anti-government extremists and it is clear that our threat landscape has become more diverse than ever before.
Despite these changes, our community remains resilient, and we have you—the public—to thank for that. In May, thanks to a tip from a family member, authorities charged Gregory Lepsky from Point Pleasant Borough (Ocean County) with plotting to build a pressure-cooker bomb and detonate it in New York City in support of ISIS. Successful disruptions like this demonstrate just how valuable your contributions are and how critical these tips are in preventing future attacks. We are all responsible for keeping our communities safe.
In the next year and beyond, my team—in coordination with our federal, state, and local partners—will bolster our training, improve public outreach, and expand our preparedness efforts. We will continue publishing unclassified threat analysis and provide tailored briefings to diverse audiences. We will strive to solidify our relationships with our private-sector partners and faith-based community, as well as invest more personnel and resources in strategic partners to expand the “See Something, Say Something” message.
In short, we will do everything we can to ensure that you and your families are safe and secure. That said, we cannot do this alone. We need your support and partnership. Therefore, I would ask you—if you see something, say something, and contact us at 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ (866-472-3365) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.