Counterterrorism

Shifting Allegiances: Domestic Extremists Embrace Foreign Terrorist Ideologies

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.

Tune in to today’s episode as our analysts review these recent cases and explore possible causes for their ideological shifts.

Terrorist Release Announcements to Counter Extremist Recidivism Act

The Federal Bureau of Prisons estimates it will release 112 inmates with convictions relating to international terrorism between 2015 and 2020, with an additional 100 releases between 2021 and 2031. NJOHSP assesses that the threat from terrorists recently released from prison is moderate given the small number of releases in connection with terrorism-related offenses over the past five years, supervision upon release, and public scrutiny.

 In this episode, we explore the upcoming release of the “American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh, and others who said they will continue to harbor extremist ideologies.  

2019 Threat Assessment Series: Domestic Terrorism - A Changing Environment

Domestic extremists’ wide-ranging ideologies pose unique challenges to New Jersey and the surrounding region, as they employ a variety of robust methods to conduct attacks, have varying motivations, and are often willing to engage in violence.

Tune in to the next installment of our 2019 Threat Assessment series as our analysts sit down and discuss the evolving tactics of domestic extremists in 2018 and what the threat landscape posed by these groups will look like this year.

2019 Threat Assessment Series: Persistent Threat - Evolving Strategies of International Terror Groups

Although overseas, foreign terrorist organizations pose unique challenges to homeland security professionals and law enforcement. These groups attempt to conduct attacks within the United States and have plotted to target US infrastructure as well as overseas US interests. In 2019, ISIS will maintain its insurgency in Iraq and Syria, support its global affiliates, and attempt to inspire attacks through propaganda dissemination, while al-Qa’ida and its affiliates will focus on targeting Western interests abroad, also disseminating propaganda to its followers, and attempting to expand its operations in West Africa.

In this episode, our analysts discuss what 2018 looked like for these foreign terrorist groups, how they have evolved over the years, and what threat they may present to the State of New Jersey.

2019 Threat Assessment Series: Inspired Terrorists - A 2018 Review of Homegrown Violent Extremists

Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) are individuals inspired—as opposed to directed—by foreign terrorist organizations and radicalized in the countries in which they are born, raised, or reside. These organizations continue to call for attacks in the West, despite the groups’ inability to execute large-scale attacks in recent years. HVE support in the United States for foreign terrorist organizations will remain unremitting, despite a decline in HVE attacks and overall activity since 2015. In 2018, there were seven individuals involved in attacks and plots nationwide and eight others charged with material support.

Join us as we discuss why HVEs remain the highest threat to New Jersey due to their sustained support of foreign terrorist groups, the unpredictability of attacks, and their susceptibility to online propaganda.

An Overview of the 2019 NJOHSP Terrorism Threat Assessment

In October, Robert Bowers targeted members of the Jewish community when he entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people and injuring six. It was an attack not only toward members of that congregation, but also against all citizens throughout the United States who should be able to go about their daily lives without fearing for their safety at any event or venue.

The threat from individuals who similarly wish to do harm has hit home in New Jersey as well. In May, NJOHSP detectives arrested and charged a sovereign citizen extremist for the first time under a new State statute for filing fraudulent liens. In October, an anti-government extremist transported explosive materials through our State with the goal of conducting an attack on Election Day in Washington, DC. That same month, Cesar Sayoc Jr. mailed Cory Booker and 15 other Democratic figureheads packages that contained improvised explosive devices.

These incidents further demonstrate the wide-ranging ideologies associated with domestic terrorism and have only further strengthened our Office’s resolve to protect the diversity that makes New Jersey so unique. Join us as we discuss the upcoming release of NJOHSP's 2019 Terrorism Threat Assessment and the threat extremist groups pose to New Jersey in 2019. 

2018 Threat Assessment Series: Enemies in Cyberspace - Cyberterrorism and Terrorists' Use of the Internet

According to our 2018 NJ Terrorism Threat Assessment and our partners at the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC), terrorists will increasingly use encryption, the dark web, and cryptocurrencies for recruitment and to spread propaganda. They will also use those items to encourage lone-wolf attacks, facilitate their operations, and acquire weapons to conduct physical attacks against targets. As such, we have seen social media companies remove extremist content and suspend accounts, forcing extremists to move their Internet activities to less active platforms, limiting their potential influence.

Join us as analysts from our office and the NJCCIC provide insight into terrorist groups’ current cyber capabilities and their predictions of what their future cyber operations may look like. Additionally, the analysts discuss the challenges for social media and web hosting companies in policing terrorists’ content on their sites.

2018 Threat Assessment Series: Domestic Terrorism - A Changing Environment

Throughout the last year, domestic extremist groups—particularly anarchists, militia members, and white supremacists—in New Jersey and neighboring states clashed, traveled across state lines, and were, at times, subject to foreign influence.

Join our intelligence analysts as they discuss trends presented in the 2018 NJOHSP Terrorism Threat Assessment, as well as their outlook for the domestic terrorism threat in 2018.

2018 Threat Assessment Series: Persistent Threat - Evolving Strategies of International Terror Groups

Over the last year, ISIS has lost a significant amount of territory, but the group will continue to spread its influence. Al-Qa'ida in 2018 will rely on its affiliates to act autonomously as the group becomes more decentralized. NJOHSP places ISIS and al-Qa'ida as moderate threats to New Jersey in 2018.

In today's episode, our analysts discuss what 2017 looked like for these international terrorist groups and what the 2018 threat landscape posed by these groups looks like.

2018 Threat Assessment Series: Inspired Terrorists - A 2017 Review of Homegrown Violent Extremists

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. While international terrorist organizations have encouraged HVEs to carry out attacks, in many instances, personal grievances influence their ideology, target selection, and violent acts. HVEs can be radicalized using social media—including Facebook, YouTube, and Telegram—which encourages attacks in the West or support for terrorists overseas.

In the year ahead, HVEs will remain New Jersey's most compelling threat. Join us as we discuss how HVEs continue to demonstrate an ability to operate in New Jersey and throughout the region, while connecting with like-minded individuals online and acting independently from organized terrorist groups, making them difficult for law enforcement to detect and deter.

Episode 2: Extremists Exploiting Security Positions

An NJOHSP review of terrorism cases in 2016-17 demonstrates extremists in the West sought employment with private security firms in order to gain weapons experience and access to secure facilities. Although not all security personnel are given weapons training, the position affords credentials, uniforms, and access to otherwise restricted areas. For example, Dahir Adan from St. Cloud, Minnesota, wore his security uniform to enter a mall without suspicion and attack patrons in 2016. Khuram Butt from London sought employment at a security firm that specializes in working sporting events in June 2017 to potentially conduct attacks at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Join us on this episode of Intelligence. Unclassified. as we take a deeper dive into this emerging trend and how it has even affected our very own state.

Intelligence. Unclassified. Season Two Finale

This podcast marks not only the 100th episode of Intelligence. Unclassified., but also the end of Season Two. We hope you found value in the topics we covered this year, and enjoyed our speakers as they shared their insights and enthusiasm. To commemorate this occasion, our very own Director Jared Maples joins Director of Intelligence Rosemary Martorana in reviewing 2017 in homeland security and what the future holds for our office. 

Episode 49: Exploring the Center for Critical Intelligence Studies at Rutgers University

Rutgers became a federally-designated Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) through a grant award from the Defense Intelligence Agency in January 2015. Since that time, Rutgers University-New Brunswick has established a popular, new minor in Critical Intelligence Studies in collaboration with the SAS political science department; executed a number of certificate programs in intelligence/national security for undergraduate and graduate students across the University; hosted conferences on the most pressing issues in the field; and developed programs to prepare students for potential careers within the Intelligence Community. CCIS continues the work of managing and implementing all existing and new endeavors related to the IC CAE Program.

Join Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta as he discusses this novel program with its advisor Ava Mejlesi and how it leverages ties with a variety of agencies to conduct research, develop practical initiatives, and provide educational and career opportunities for Rutgers students through increased opportunities for interaction with law enforcement and intelligence professionals.

Episode 46: Children of the Caliphate - Young ISIS Returnees and the Reintegration Challenge

In recent years, the world has been repeatedly shocked by the gruesome images and actions of ISIS, in particular the footage and stories of children as young as eight executing people. Children play an important role in the organization: the children of the caliphate are seen as "the future of ISIS," and therefore education and propaganda are an important form of indoctrination. ISIS uses minors for suicide attacks, executions and fighting. Research has shown that IS propaganda between in 2015 and 2016 included 89 eulogies of children and youthsa number that steadily increased each monthly, showing that ISIS has gradually opted for this tactic. The role of minors and their future causes international concern for a broad range of reasons. Growing up and potentially fighting in armed conflict will traumatize a large number of these children. Also, what will happen with these children if the Caliphate collapses? Human Rights Watch expressed concerns about the birth registrations that will most likely not be recognized by the international community – potentially leaving children stateless.

This week on Intelligence. Unclassified., Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta had an enlightening call with researcher Liesbeth van der Heide from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), where they talk about her recent paper, Children of the Caliphate. They will explore the findings she and her co-author provide on young or juvenile ISIS returnees, assessing what sets juvenile returnees apart from adult returnees or the broader population of young criminals, and scoping the potential venues and challenges in their rehabilitation and reintegration. 

Episode 45: VOX-Pol Training Academy - Topics in Violent Political Extremism, Terrorism, and the Internet

The VOX-Pol program’s second week-long Training Academy in the Netherlands is designed to provide policymakers, law enforcement, social media companies, and others professionally-tasked with responding to violent online extremism and terrorism with an introduction to the role of the Internet in contemporary violent political extremism(s), including the online strategies of violent jihadis and the extreme right; the role of the Internet in lone actor terrorism; the online behaviors of convicted terrorists; and online CVE (Countering Violent Extremism).

The Training Academy is composed of a mix of formal lectures and hands-on labs. The latter are dedicated to providing participants with an overview of tools and methods for research and analysis in this domain. This past summer, Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta and Intelligence Analyst Paige Schilling attended the academy as presenters and participants. Tune in to hear their insights on this unique and valuable experience.

Episode 44: Preparing for Multiple Mass Gatherings - A Local and County Perspective

Recent attacks, including those at the Boston Marathon, Seaside Park Semper 5K, concert in Manchester, England, and, most recently, the Las Vegas concert, demonstrate that large-scale events remain attractive targets for terrorists and active shooters.

On this episode of Intelligence. Unclassified., Point Pleasant Beach Police Chief Joseph Michigan and Agent Ron Jennings of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office joined us to discuss special events and mass gatherings. No strangers to handling multiple large events simultaneously, they shared their insights and best practices on how to better secure and plan for such gatherings. 

Episode 43: Displaying Hate - A Look at White Supremacist Extremist Imagery

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.

Recently, our office partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to produce a comprehensive resource on the current imagery we are seeing in the white supremacist movement. Tune in as our analysts explore these symbols and their meanings.  

Episode 42: Terrorism or Not? A Look at Labelling

In the wake of a tragedy, classification of an act of mass violence appears daunting. The key point, whether it is terrorism or not, depends on the intent of the person conducting the violence, not the method, timing or victims.

Join NJOHSP Director of Intelligence Rosemary Martorana and Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta as they discuss the inherent issues in first-to-report designations of terrorism, as well as a three criterion test that can help sniff out the difference between a mass violence incident and an act of terrorism.

Episode 40: The Rise of #Vanguard #America

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. 

Join Intelligence Analyst Paige Schilling and Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta as they explore what this movement is all about and how their actions have impacted New Jersey.