This morning, an individual attempted to carry out an attack in New York City, injuring himself and three others, according to initial reports. This attack is the second in New York and the third on mass transit this year.
An NJOHSP review of anti-government attacks in the United States indicates such groups and individuals are largely inexperienced in constructing explosive devices to conduct attacks, allowing law enforcement to disrupt their attempts in advance.
Yesterday, an ISIS-inspired individual carried out an attack in Lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring 12, according to initial reports. This is the first vehicle-ramming incident a homegrown violent extremist has conducted in the United States since November 2016, when Abdul Artan drove his car into pedestrians on Ohio State University’s campus, injuring 11.
Al-Qa’ida will likely leverage Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) to rebrand itself as a moderate alternative to ISIS and reassert its influence in Syria, as HTS continues to garner support among rebel factions, consolidate power in Idlib, and control resources in the region.
Terrorist organizations in North Africa—namely al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram—continue to kidnap Westerners for political leverage and fundraising, potentially
impacting business operations for New Jersey-based companies with locations in the region. At this time, NJOHSP has no specific or credible information that these groups are explicitly targeting New Jersey companies or their employees.
In July, Australian authorities arrested two brothers, Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat, who allegedly plotted to target a commercial airliner in Sydney, possibly on behalf of ISIS.
ISIS continues to direct and inspire individuals to carry out attacks in Europe and Australia, leveraging existing familial and virtual ties, exploiting Muslim diaspora communities, and promoting unsophisticated attack methods to target the West.
There is no predictable timeframe from when a homegrown violent extremist (HVE) radicalizes to when they act out violently, underscoring the need for public education campaigns to assist in identifying behavior changes indicative of radicalization.
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.
On August 18, ISIS claimed responsibility for two vehicle-ramming attacks that occurred last week in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain, that killed 15 and injured over 100. These incidents are the seventh and eighth such attacks in Europe in 2017 and highlight the threat posed to public assembly areas.
On June 1, federal authorities arrested two individuals tied to Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)—which is responsible for planning intelligence-gathering, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of the group internationally—for attempting to provide material support, among other charges. Ali Mohamad Kourani conducted surveillance on a variety of targets in New York City, including FBI offices, an Army National Guard facility, a US Secret Service facility, a US Army armory, and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.
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.
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.