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.
White supremacist extremists will likely cite “white genocide” as justification for violence against certain religious communities being the only option to save the white race. Since 2018, there have been no New Jersey-based white supremacist extremist attacks; however, groups and individuals within the State continue to promote the conspiracy in person and online.
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.
White supremacist extremists will likely consult online manifestos for ideological and tactical guidance due to the success of past attacks and their idolization of like-minded extremists. The manifesto of Anders Breivik, a white supremacist who killed over 70 people in Norway in 2011, has been the inspiration for multiple white supremacist extremists, including Christopher Hasson, who created a target list of high-profile media members and political figures.
There were 32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018. NJOHSP defines domestic terrorism as violence committed by individuals or groups—including anti-government, race-based, religious, and single-issue extremist ideologies—associated primarily with US-based movements.
Sovereign citizen extremists in New Jersey often rely on “paper terrorism,” such as filing fraudulent liens against public officials or self-identifying in court paperwork, but can resort to violence when challenged by law enforcement. In May 2016, legislation in New Jersey enhanced penalties associated with the filing of fraudulent liens to retaliate against public officials. Sovereign citizens have since adopted new methods to circumvent the law.
Anarchist extremists will mobilize in response to issues they believe are unjust, carry out criminal and violent acts during otherwise First Amendment-protected events and protests, and target perceived enemies. Throughout 2018, anarchist extremists were actively engaged in criminal activities in the tri-state region, resulting in at least 20 arrests.
HVEs pose the greatest threat to New Jersey due to their presence in the United States, ability to conduct and plot attacks using simple methods, and susceptibility to online terrorist propaganda. An NJOHSP review has identified at least 179 HVEs between 2015-18, with 34 arrested in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania for conducting attacks, organizing plots, and providing material support to foreign terrorist groups, namely ISIS and al-Qa’ida.
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.
Historically, white supremacist extremists have leveraged alternative social media platforms to espouse their ideologies, interact with like-minded individuals online, and attempt to radicalize others. On October 27, Robert Bowers, a suspected white supremacist extremist who espoused anti-Semitic comments online, shot and killed 11 people and injured six at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
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.