Anwar al-Aulaqi: Inspiring Jihadists Five Years After His Death

The attack on Monday at Ohio State University highlights the enduring influence of radical cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who was killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in 2011. Abdul Artan, who shortly before the Ohio State attack posted a statement on Facebook praising Aulaqi as “our hero,” drove his vehicle through a crowd and struck fellow students with a knife, injuring 11. Artan’s motives are still under investigation., and in the same Facebook post, he made references to ISIS and lone-wolf attacks.

Hotel Security: Lessons From Terrorist Attacks in Africa

Since 2015, foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Qa’ida affiliates and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have directed and inspired attacks against the hotel industry in Africa, with the goal of depleting emergency responder resources and maximizing casualties. Hotels are often open to the public and host tourists, government officials, and entrepreneurs, as well as provide a conducive environment for meetings, conferences, and other special events.

ISIS: Redefining Success to Compensate for Losses

Since May, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has tried to maintain operational and strategic momentum in the face of setbacks by recasting its propaganda, downplaying territorial losses, and emphasizing its potential long-term impact on the global jihad. Since 2015, the group lost approximately 30 percent of its territory and 120 leaders. 

Transportation/Maritime: Ferries a Vulnerable Target

An NJOHSP review of the Transportation Sector found that ferries remain susceptible to terrorist attacks because they transport large volumes of people, have limited security, and offer minimal escape options during incidents. Although there has not been a recent plot or attack against ferries in the United States, authorities across the country, including in New Jersey, have increased security in this area. French authorities likewise hardened port security following a bomb scare at the Port of Marseille in July.

Rahimi Arrest Highlights Public’s Role in Combating Terrorism

Ahmad Khan Rahami—a.k.a Ahmad Rahimi—who was responsible for bomb-related incidents in Seaside Park, Elizabeth, and New York City in September, was arrested after citizens reported suspicious activity to local authorities, underscoring the importance of the public in countering terrorism. On September 19, law enforcement officials in New Jersey and New York issued alerts on Twitter and other platforms with photos of Rahami, stating he was wanted in connection with explosions in both states.

AQAP: Publishing New Inspire Guides

Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continues to influence the global English-speaking jihadist community through newly created Inspire Guides, which allow the group to take credit for attacks and provide guidance for future operations. AQAP has not successfully executed an attack in the West since the operation in January 2015 against the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Rebranding The Nusrah Front

The Nusrah Front—al Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria—this summer changed its name to the Levant Conquest Front, or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, as part of a rebranding strategy to improve its image among local Syrians, participate in future Syrian peace talks, and decrease the number of US-led airstrikes against its positions in Syria. In July, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the head of the Nusrah Front, stated the organization would no longer associate with groups outside Syria, including al-Qa’ida.

Zika: Assessing the Risk from Flights to Cuba

New Jersey is taking proactive steps to mitigate the risk of Zika virus disease transmission as flights from Newark to Havana begin in November. Cuba is a country where Zika is spread by mosquitoes and one of many areas in the Americas—including southern Florida in the US—that have local transmission of the virus.

Overlap Between Black Separatists and Moorish Sovereign Citizen Extremists

The black separatist and Moorish sovereign citizen extremist movements have common ideologies, tactics, and targets and have recently reacted violently to perceived incidents of police brutality. As a result, law enforcement and government officials have become principal targets of these overlapping movements.

ISIS’s Strategy to Divide Muslims in the West

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) global attacks since last year are part of a deliberate strategy to provoke anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions in the West that create fissures between Muslims and local populations; ISIS aims to capitalize on the tension by casting itself as a defender of Muslims worldwide. ISIS’s predecessor organization, the Sunni-majority al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), employed a similar approach in Iraq in 2006 when it destroyed a major Shia mosque in the country.

AQIS and ISIS: Expanding in Bangladesh

Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are growing capabilities in Bangladesh by leveraging local terrorist groups. While AQIS seeks to protect Muslims from perceived injustices, ISIS views Bangladesh as a staging area for operations in the region and beyond. 

Major Islamic Holiday Will Fall Near September 11

For the first time since September 11, 2001, one of the holiest holidays in Islam—Eid al-Adha—will fall on or around the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. During the four-day Eid holiday, prayers and celebrations will be held at mosques, high schools, and parks throughout New Jersey.

Queens Shooting: Update as of 1200

As of this morning, the investigation into the murder on Saturday of Imam Maulama Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin near the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid Mosque in Queens has yielded no information suggesting the victims were targeted because of their religion. Although the motive remains unclear, the attack seems to have been planned.

Washitaw Nation: Non-violent in New Jersey

Gavin Long, who killed three police officers and wounded three others in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday, had alleged ties to the Washitaw Nation, a sovereign citizen group with members in New Jersey who have engaged in non-violent activity. Members of the Washitaw Nation claim to have an indigenous heritage pre-dating the founding of the United States, and they assert their status as non-citizen residents immune from US laws.

Recent Attacks on Law Enforcement

Based on an NJOHSP review, demonstrations in response to police-involved shootings nationally have resulted in mostly peaceful protests and vigils in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, which fall within constitutionally protected practices. However, since the shooting of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, on July 7 there has been an increase in attacks targeting law enforcement officials. 

Hizballah: Implications of Badreddine’s Death

The assassination on May 13 of Mustafa Badreddine—a Hizballah commander in Syria and head of the group’s External Security Organization—will not dissuade Hizballah from supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. According to Hizballah, an unspecified Sunni rebel group conducted the assassination; however, no group has claimed responsibility. Badreddine had been a member of Hizballah since its inception in 1982 and took part in a majority of its operations. According to Western media, he commanded 5,000 to 6,000 Hizballah fighters as of 2011.

Mass Shootings in the US, January 2015 to June 2016

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness breaks down mass shootings into two categories, ideological and non-ideological. This provides a clarified awareness of both ideological and non-ideological mass shooting incidents across the US, and the opportunity to separate ideologically motivated shooting into its own category for counterterrorism purposes.  

Mass shooting incidents which occurred domestically between January 2015 and June 2016 were analyzed using both of NJOHSP's mass shooting definitions. Based off the NJOHSP's definitions, there have been 38 incidents of non-ideological mass shootings and been seven incidents of ideological mass shootings. Of 45 total incidents since January 2015, 42 percent occurred on the East Coast.