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.
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.
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.
White supremacist extremists are active in New Jersey, committing crimes, distributing propaganda to recruit new members, and intimidating minority populations.
HVEs pose the greatest threat to New Jersey and will continue operating within the State and surrounding region, while reaching out to like-minded individuals online.
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.
White supremacist extremists often use imagery that can be broken down into four categories—traditional, religious, Nazi-related, and Internet-based—to convey their ideology, show support for a specific group, or intimidate minority populations. These symbols should not automatically be assumed to be hate-related, but should be evaluated in the context in which they are used.
An NJOHSP review of violent protests nationwide indicates an increase in confrontations between white supremacists, militia members, and counter-protesters—including anti-fascist anarchist extremists. Since 2016, there have been at least 11 violent protests in the United States, resulting in one death, at least 75 injuries, and over 300 arrests.
In the past six months, Vanguard America—a white supremacist group—has expanded beyond Internet-based activity to attending violent protests nationwide, distributing propaganda, and intimidating minority populations. The leader of the group claims there are approximately 200 members in 20 states, including New Jersey.
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.