On June 4, the US Department of Justice announced Peyman Amiri Larijani, an Iranian citizen and former Turkish resident, was charged with conspiracy to transfer US aircraft parts to Iran. The indictment alleges Larijani conspired to use the supplies to equip an Iranian airline suspected of providing logistical support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The US Department of State designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization on April 15.
Iran will likely continue using social media to target assets in the United States to gain access to information sources and promote disinformation campaigns. Iranian intelligence services use social engineering to target those within the US Government and key private-sector areas to collect intelligence and gain access to associated accounts and networks.
The threat from terrorists recently released from prison is moderate given the small number of releases in connection with terrorism-related offenses in the past five years and the level of public scrutiny and supervised monitoring. High-profile releases such as those of John Walker Lindh, Shannon Conley, and Colleen LaRose, also known as “Jihad Jane,” have prompted the US government to propose the Terrorist Release Announcements to Counter Extremist Recidivism Act, or the TRACER Act.
Some domestic extremists are likely willing to shift to foreign terrorist ideologies as a way to justify violence due to their susceptibility to radicalization, existing violent tendencies, and willingness to support extremist groups. An NJOHSP review found that many domestic extremist and foreign terrorist ideologies share similar viewpoints typically rooted in hatred and intolerance.
LeT poses a low threat to New Jersey due to the group’s continued focus on local and regional issues, including its operations in Kashmir and Pakistan, and its efforts to expand foreign-based fundraising. Since its creation, LeT has threatened the United States, but has not succeeded in conducting an attack domestically.
TTP poses a low threat to New Jersey due to its territorial losses in Pakistan, the United States targeting its leaders, and internal conflicts constraining the group to regional operations, despite prior plots against the United States. TTP has never succeeded in conducting an attack in the United States; however, the group continues to entice Americans to provide monetary and material support.
Boko Haram has never conducted an attack in the United States, and its operational capability is limited due to its focus on operations in Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, as well as competition for support from ISIS West Africa. From January 2018 to March 2019, Boko Haram conducted large-scale attacks that resulted in approximately 307 fatalities within its operational regions near the borders of Nigeria.
ISIS’s release of a video featuring its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, prior to Ramadan likely indicates efforts to rally supporters during its post-caliphate period, purport its global presence, and encourage attacks during the holy month. On April 29, ISIS released its first video in five years with Baghdadi, who has not publicly appeared since he proclaimed ISIS’s caliphate in 2014 at the Great Mosque in Mosul, Iraq.
On April 21, complex coordinated suicide attacks targeted several churches and Western hotels in Sri Lanka, resulting in at least 290 deaths and more than 500 injuries. At this time, the incident remains under investigation and no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, police arrested at least 24 people, and the Sri Lankan government believes the Nations Thawahid Jaman group conducted the attack with assistance from international terrorist groups. Additionally, Sri Lankan authorities temporarily blocked popular social media sites and apps, including WhatsApp and Facebook, to prevent the spread of disinformation.
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 group failed to release its English-language magazine, Inspire, in 2018, the first year without an issue since the publication’s inception in 2009.
ISIS West Africa’s tactical successes and support in Nigeria have given the group the ability to expand its influence throughout the Sahel in the coming months, threatening US economic interests in the region, including direct investment opportunities. ISIS West Africa, formed in 2016 following a split with Boko Haram, operates primarily in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and maintains an estimated 5,000 fighters, according to open-source reporting.
The 2019 Terrorism Threat Assessment is designed to give our customers an understanding of the terrorist threat to New Jersey this year. As we continue into 2019, NJOHSP will build upon this assessment through briefings, written products, and webinars to provide analysis that is relevant, timely, accurate, and insightful.