Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was founded in 2007 and is al- Qa’ida’s North Africa affiliate. AQIM was formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a splinter group of the Armed Islamic Group, both of which fought against Algeria’s secular government.
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.
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.
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.
The terror threat from ISIS to New Jersey is moderate due to the group’s ability to inspire individuals to conduct attacks in the State and surrounding region on behalf of the organization. Since 2015, there have been nine ISIS-inspired attacks by homegrown violent extremists in the tri-state area.
The 2018 Terrorism Threat Assessment is designed to give our customers an understanding of the terrorist threat to New Jersey this year. As we continue into 2018, NJOHSP will build upon this assessment through briefings, written products, and webinars to provide analysis that is relevant, timely, accurate, and insightful.
Terrorist organizations in North Africa—namely al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram—continue to kidnap Westerners for political leverage and fundraising, potentially
impacting business operations for New Jersey-based companies with locations in the region. At this time, NJOHSP has no specific or credible information that these groups are explicitly targeting New Jersey companies or their employees.
On August 18, ISIS claimed responsibility for two vehicle-ramming attacks that occurred last week in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain, that killed 15 and injured over 100. These incidents are the seventh and eighth such attacks in Europe in 2017 and highlight the threat posed to public assembly areas.
On June 1, federal authorities arrested two individuals tied to Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)—which is responsible for planning intelligence-gathering, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of the group internationally—for attempting to provide material support, among other charges. Ali Mohamad Kourani conducted surveillance on a variety of targets in New York City, including FBI offices, an Army National Guard facility, a US Secret Service facility, a US Army armory, and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.
Terrorists—particularly homegrown violent extremists (HVEs)—will likely continue using vehicles as weapons based on foreign terrorist organizations promoting this tactic, the success of past attacks, and the ease of vehicle acquisition. An NJOHSP review of vehicle-ramming attacks in the West over the last 10 years shows increases in this tactic and resulting casualties.
NJOHSP assesses the recent uptick in propaganda from Hamza bin Ladin is an attempt to inspire sympathizers to execute attacks in the West, secure his position as a future al-Qa’ida leader, and attract supporters. Since Hamza’s public introduction in 2015, he has produced six audio messages—two were released in the past month.
NJOHSP assesses al-Qa’ida is attempting to reform its operations in Syria following a split with its affiliate, the Nusrah Front. Since 2012, al-Qa’ida has maintained an active presence in Syria, taking advantage of the multi-faceted conflict; however, in 2016, the Nusrah Front broke with al-Qa’ida and is focusing its efforts on the Syrian conflict.
On May 4, ISIS released the ninth edition of its online magazine, Rumiyah, which featured an article on detaining people during an attack—stating the purpose is “not to hold large numbers of the [disbelievers] hostage in order to negotiate demands…the objective is to create as much carnage and terror as possible.” The article also praises the attacks at the Bataclan theater in Paris and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as examples for sympathizers to emulate.
A Point Pleasant (Ocean County) man faces federal terrorism charges after a family member notified law enforcement of his erratic behavior—underscoring the role friends, relatives, and close associates play in countering violence. According to authorities, Gregory Lepsky plotted to build a pressure-cooker bomb and detonate it in New York City to “kill as many people as possible” in support of ISIS.