This infographic depicts the network of al-Qa’ida affiliates in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa—to include areas of operation, recent activity, and the relationships between affiliates.
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.
On May 25, ISIS released a video calling on supporters to conduct assaults and justifying the killing of innocents during Ramadan, the most sacred month in Islam, which runs from May 27 to June 24. Historically, ISIS and its predecessor groups have called for an offensive campaign during this month.
NJOHSP encourages the public, law enforcement, first responders, and our private- and public-sector partners to report suspicious activity that could be related to terrorism. In the last few years, such reports in the tristate area led to investigations that thwarted several terrorist plots. Here are a few incidents where a suspicious activity report helped uncover and frustrate possible attacks.
Recent attacks in the West and renewed US raids in AQAP-controlled areas have prompted al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to disseminate new propaganda aimed at inspiring and providing tactical guidance to sympathizers in the United States. In January, Nawar al-Aulaqi—the eight-year-old daughter of deceased US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi—was killed when US forces raided an AQAP-controlled area in a remote desert region of Yemen. AQAP has since leveraged this operation to spread anti-American rhetoric and motivate supporters in the West.
On April 20, ISIS claimed responsibility for a shooting against law enforcement officers in Paris, killing one and injuring two, declaring the perpetrator a “fighter of the Islamic State.” This is the second ISIS strike this year against police officers in Europe. At this time, there are no known or credible threats to New Jersey.
After foreign terrorist calls to attack shopping malls in the West, which has been circulating in propaganda since 2015, the Limbecker Platz mall in the western German city of Essen closed on March 11. Two men were arrested after German police received a tip that ISIS contacted followers in Germany to attack the mall—the second terror plot against malls in the country since December 2016.
On April 9, ISIS claimed responsibility for suicide bombings at Coptic Christian churches in two Egyptian cities, killing roughly 45 and injuring 106, during Palm Sunday services. At this time, there are no known or credible threats to the Coptic Christian community in New Jersey, which has one of the largest concentrations of Coptic Christians in the United States.
Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continues to demonstrate its willingness to attack US aviation, prompting the United States to implement new security enhancements in this sector. Since 2009, the group has plotted unsuccessfully to blow up airliners over the United States three times using various non-metallic explosive devices, which can evade security detection. The chief architect of these attacks, bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri, likely remains active in Yemen.
ISIS will likely continue refining its UAV capabilities and touting successes as proofs of concept for future operations. Since February, ISIS claims it has conducted approximately 80 UAV attacks in Iraq and Syria, killing approximately 40 and injuring 100. The UAVs are primarily quadcopters, which can be easily purchased online and customized to drop small explosive munitions.
On March 8, four men killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 50 at the Sardar Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, using tactics indicative of premeditation after foreign terrorist calls to strike hospitals in the West. ISIS later claimed responsibility.
Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is leveraging a recent US counterterrorism (CT) operation in Yemen to spread anti-American rhetoric and motivate supporters in the West. On January 29, US forces raided an AQAP-controlled area in Bayda Province, killing three tribal chiefs linked to the group and the daughter of deceased US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi. In a rare audio statement, AQAP leader Qasim al-Rimi mocked the US President for the operation.