Since July, authorities in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania have arrested several individuals for threatening government officials and law enforcement online. Each of these individuals leveraged social media and email platforms to target public officials, including a US Congressman, a US Senator, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, court officials, and law enforcement officers.
White supremacist extremists continue to leverage social media to communicate, organize, and spread propaganda, despite the efforts of mainstream social media companies to remove extremist content from their online platforms.
ISIS’s female sympathizers in the United States are likely to provide material support as they encourage supporters to conduct attacks on the group’s behalf, fundraise for its operations overseas, and issue threatening rhetoric online. An NJOHSP review of 11 out of 13 incidents highlighted that female homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) supported ISIS, despite recruitment tactics targeting female sympathizers from other foreign terrorist organizations.
In 2017, domestic terrorists were responsible for a total of 45 attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and instances of weapons stockpiling, including four incidents in New Jersey. NJOHSP defines domestic terrorism as violence committed by individuals or groups—including race-based, single-issue, anti-government, and religious extremist ideologies—associated primarily with US-based movements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sovereign citizen extremists throughout the United States view federal, state, and local governments as illegitimate, lacking the authority to issue or enforce laws. They also assert they are not subject to questioning or arrest by law enforcement, paying taxes and fines, complying with summonses, or possessing official licenses.
Anarchist extremists will continue to mobilize in response to issues they perceive as unjust, use online platforms to confront opposition groups, and exploit open carry laws to arm themselves for defensive purposes.
Militia extremists pose a moderate threat to New Jersey because of fundraising and recruitment efforts in the State, violent involvement in protests and standoffs across the United States, and their ability to coordinate and organize on a national scale.
AQAP has demonstrated the intent and capability to act outside its primary area of operations in Yemen and has attempted to strike the United States on three occasions since 2009.