Federal Law Enforcement Reportedly Investigating Election Day Threats
According to news media reports last week, federal law enforcement is investigating a possible threat from al-Qa’ida to conduct terrorist attacks around the time of the US election. While not commenting on intelligence matters, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the President and his national security team are vigilant about all threats facing the United States, and are certainly mindful of the potential of increased risks around a national event like Election Day. NJOHSP will continue to work with our federal, state, county, and municipal partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety.
Counterterrorism analysts have long said that in the current threat environment, homegrown violent extremists could attack with little or no notice. Our concern that violent extremists could be inspired to conduct attacks inside the United States, including New Jersey, has not diminished.
Interfaith Issues/Bergen County: How Two Lodi Men Crossed the Line From Hate Crimes to Terrorism
Aakash Dalal, age 24, of Lodi, was found guilty by a jury last week on 17 counts of terrorism, bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit arson, arson, criminal mischief, and other charges in connection with a series of vandalism and arson attacks against Jewish institutions in Bergen County in December 2011 and January 2012. His co-conspirator, Anthony Graziano, also of Lodi, was convicted of the same charges in May. While Graziano conducted most of the graffiti spray-painting and acts of arson and attempted arson, prosecutors demonstrated that Dalal was the instigator, continually inciting Graziano to commit additional anti-Semitic acts.
The terrorism charges were in connection with one incident, in which Graziano threw firebombs into the residence adjacent to Congregation Beth El in Rutherford on January 11, 2012. (Photo shows response by Rutherford firefighters.) A rabbi and eight family members were sleeping in the residence at the time, and in court testimony, he described flames flashing across his bed as a firebomb crashed through the window of his bedroom.
Dalal and Graziano were found guilty of bias intimidation in connection with all of the incidents. The earlier crimes included a failed arson attempt at the Jewish Community Center in Paramus, an arson attack that failed to do any significant damage to K’Hal Adath Jeshurun Temple in Paramus, and spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti at Temple Beth Israel in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack.
School Security: Two People Stabbed at Rutgers Business School
On November 4, two people were hospitalized after being stabbed by a former student in an office at the Rutgers Business School, on the Livingston Campus near Piscataway. Rutgers police said the victims were a student and a faculty member. The attacker has been taken into custody and is also hospitalized, reportedly for self-inflicted wounds. A hospital spokesman said that as of November 6, one patient remained in critical condition and two others had been upgraded to stable. The investigation is ongoing.
The stabbing is the most recent violent incident on or near the Rutgers campus. On October 30, a woman who is not affiliated with the university suffered a fractured skull when she was assaulted near a Rutgers fraternity house. No suspect has been arrested. On September 24, shots were reportedly fired in a parking lot on the Livingston Campus during an altercation between two individuals, one armed with a machete and the other with a handgun.