Tag Archive for Department of Homeland Security

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Bulletin: Terrorist Interest in Attacking Theaters and Mass Gatherings

An early April 2012 suicide bombing of a theater in Somalia and a violent extremist communication advocating attacks on US theaters highlight terrorists’ continued interest in attacking such venues. Although we have no specific or credible information indicating that terrorists plan to attack theaters in the United States, terrorists may seek to emulate overseas attacks on theaters here in the United States because they have the potential to inflict mass casualties and cause local economic damage.

Homeland Security Warns of Terrorist Wildfire Attacks

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and fusion centers around the country are warning that terrorists are interested in using fire as a weapon, particularly in the form of large-scale wildfires near densely populated areas. A newly released DHS report states that for more than a decade “international terrorist groups and associated individuals have expressed interest in using fire as a tactic against the Homeland to cause economic loss, fear, resource depletion, and humanitarian hardship.” The report notes that the tactical use of fire as a weapon is “inexpensive and requires limited technical expertise” and “materials needed to use fire as a weapon are common and easily obtainable, making preoperational activities difficult to detect and plot disruption and apprehension challenging for law enforcement.”

(U//FOUO) DHS Terrorist Interest in Using Fire as a Weapon

International terrorist groups and violent extremists have long shown interest in using fire as a weapon due to the low cost and limited technical expertise required, the potential for causing large-scale damage, and the low risk of apprehension. Recent encouragement of use of this tactic by terrorist groups and violent extremists in propaganda materials and extremist Web forums is directed at Western audiences and supports Homeland attacks.

The Continually Expanding Definition of Terrorism

Though the United States has been engaged in a Global War on Terror for more than a decade, the U.S. Government surprisingly does not have a standardized definition of terrorism that is agreed upon by all agencies. The State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and a number of other government agencies all utilize differing definitions of what constitutes an act of terrorism. This lack of agreement has allowed individual agencies to present vastly different and, in some cases, far more inclusive definitions of terrorist acts enabling the use of expanded law enforcement and investigative procedures that might not be applicable in other agencies. In fact, some agencies have presented a definition of terrorism so expansive as to include a number of activities that are not traditionally associated with terrorism or terrorist organizations.

DHS Report: Criminals and Hacktivists May Use 2012 Summer Olympics as Platform for Cyberattacks

Scams, malware campaigns and attacks will continue to grow in scale and complexity as the 27 July opening ceremony in London draws near. Event organizers, sponsors and British authorities continue to increase their physical and cybersecurity awareness as the event approaches. Information systems supporting the Games, transport infrastructure, law enforcement communications, financial operations and similar will become prime targets for criminals. A collective of approximately eighty-seven UK banks exercised their ability to withstand cyber attacks last November. Olympic organizers anticipated cyber threats and began testing their cybersecurity posture during ‘technical rehearsals’ by running scenarios from their Technology Operations Center (TOC) situated on Canary Wharf. The TOC will be manned with over one hundred personnel continuously monitoring critical applications, such as the Commentator Information System, organizers’ intranet, and a telecom infrastructure encompassing 900 servers, 1,000 network and security devices, and 9,500 computers. In addition, British law enforcement organizations have been collaborating with the U.S. Secret Service and other industry experts to understand attack vectors, detection methods and mitigation strategies to combat the threat. However, the cyber implications are more expansive than localized attacks against systems and encompass globally distributed Olympic-themed malware, spam campaigns and scams.

(U//FOUO) DHS Wireless Medical Devices/Healthcare Cyberattacks Report

The expanded use of wireless technology on the enterprise network of medical facilities and the wireless utilization of MDs opens up both new opportunities and new vulnerabilities to patients and medical facilities. Since wireless MDs are now connected to Medical information technology (IT) networks, IT networks are now remotely accessible through the MD. This may be a desirable development, but the communications security of MDs to protect against theft of medical information and malicious intrusion is now becoming a major concern. In addition, many HPH organizations are leveraging mobile technologies to enhance operations. The storage capacity, fast computing speeds, ease of use, and portability render mobile devices an optimal solution.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Intelligence Bulletin on Homegrown Extremist Retaliation for Afghan Massacre

This Joint Intelligence Bulletin is intended to increase awareness and provide understanding of the nature of potentially emergent threats in response to the alleged killing of civilians by a US soldier in Afghanistan and the burning of Korans and other religious documents on a military base. This Information is provided to support the activities of FBI and DHS and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and the private sector to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.

(U//FOUO) DHS Chemical Facilities Threat Assessment

The DHS Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center produced this threat assessment to support implementation of 6 Code of Federal Regulations Part 27, “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).” This assessment describes the potential terrorist threat to the chemical and petroleum facilities regulated under CFATS and determined to be high risk by the Secretary of Homeland Security. It does not address facilities that may hold threshold quantities of the chemicals listed in CFATS that fall outside its scope, such as public water facilities or facilities regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. Nor does it address the transportation of chemicals, which is regulated under other authorities. Potential terrorist tactics against such facilities—based on DHS’ knowledge of terrorist intentions and capabilities—are included to aid industry security personnel in implementing security measures at their facilities.

(U//FOUO) DHS Terrorist Use of Improvised Incendiary Devices and Attack Methods

Improvised incendiary devices (IIDs) typically are less expensive to make than improvised explosive devices but still are capable of creating mass casualties and causing widespread fear and panic. Improvised incendiary devices (IIDs) can be constructed easily from everyday materials available at hardware and grocery stores. IIDs can be used against many types of infrastructure targets; violent extremists have used them successfully in attacks in the United States and overseas.

DHS Media Monitoring Desktop Reference Manual

A manual for the Department of Homeland Security’s Media Monitoring Capability that was reportedly obtained by EPIC via a FOIA request. The manual has been slightly redacted by DHS to remove names and contact information and the URL of the Network Operations Center Media Monitoring Capability reporting website. This website has been listed in three of the four publicly available manuals as an example of a website monitored by DHS.

(U//FOUO) DHS Infrastructure Protection Note: Evolving Threats to the Homeland

The Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) produces Infrastructure Protection Notes to address issues impacting the infrastructure protection community’s risk environment from terrorist threats and attacks, natural hazards, and other events. Based on the analysis within the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis product Evolution of the Terrorist Threat to the United States this IP Note outlines the evolution of terrorist threats and impacts to the Nation’s critical infrastructure.

(U//FOUO) DHS Mass Transit and Passenger Railroad Systems Terrorist Attack Preparedness Info Regarding a Realistic Threat

Terrorist attack tactics used against mass transit and passenger railroad systems abroad provide insights that can assist law enforcement officers in securing these critical infrastructure assets. The chart below highlights common tactics noted in attempted or successful use of explosive or incendiary devices against mass transit or passenger railroad systems in attacks conducted between March 2004 and November 2009. The information about these attacks provides insights into device type, selection, and construction and can help law enforcement identify patterns and develop protective measures. Analysis shows terrorists have timed attacks during periods of peak ridership; used multiple, coordinated, drop-and-leave devices in identical or similar baggage; and placed devices inside rail cars to cause casualties among passengers.

DHS Testimony on Social Networking and Media Monitoring

Social media are web-based and mobile technologies that turn communication into an interactive dialogue in a variety of online fora. It may be appropriate for the government, including DHS, to use social media for a variety of reasons. The President has challenged his Administration to use technology and tools to create a more efficient, effective, and transparent government1. DHS recognizes that the use of social media by government actors must occur with appropriate privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections; whether DHS is disclosing its informationand press releases via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, reviewing news feeds for situational awareness, or researching identified, discrete targets for legitimate investigatory purposes. Accordingly, DHS has created Department-wide standards designed to protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties in each category of its use.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Warning: Terrorist Use of Vehicle Ramming Tactics

Terrorists overseas have suggested conducting vehicle ramming attacks—using modified or unmodified vehicles—against crowds, buildings, and other vehicles. Such attacks could be used to target locations where large numbers of people congregate, including sporting events, entertainment venues, or shopping centers. Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a Homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience.

(U//FOUO) DHS London Officials Issue Heroin Anthrax Alert March 2010

On 5 February 2010, the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA)—an official British Government agency—announced the confirmation of one case in England of a heroin user testing positive for anthrax. HPA also said 19 cases of anthrax had been confirmed so far in Scotland and that the heroin, or a contaminated cutting agent mixed with the heroin, was the likely source of infection.

DHS-University of Maryland Study: Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States 1970 to 2008

While efforts are increasingly aimed at understanding and identifying “hot spots” of ordinary crime, little is known about the geographic concentration of terrorist attacks. What areas are most prone to terrorism? Does the geographic concentration of attacks change over time? Do specific ideologies motivate and concentrate terrorist attacks? Moreover, what factors increase the risk that an attack will occur in a particular area? Using recently released data from the Global Terrorism Database, we address these gaps in our knowledge by examining county-level trends in terrorist attacks in the United States from 1970 through 2008.

DHS Budget Cuts Mean Less Magazine Subscriptions

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said that her department is constantly looking for ways to trim its multi-billion budget. “Every element of the federal government has an obligation to find ways to do what we do more efficiently and in a more cost effective manner,” Napolitano said in a speech this past week. “We’ve been looking for these ways for three years. It’s everything … it’s cutting down expenses related to procurement, it’s doing certain things with IT which are cutting the costs of that, it’s eliminating you know, subscriptions to unnecessary periodicals. We are finding that we can get leaner and meaner. And we will continue to do that.”

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Florida-Based Violent Extremist Arrested for Plotting Bombing Attack in Tampa

This Joint Intelligence Bulletin is intended to provide information on the 7 January 2012 arrest by the FBI Tampa Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), as part of a planned law enforcement action, of Florida-based Sami OsmakacUSPER. Osmakac is charged with attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. This information is provided to support the activities of FBI and DHS and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial, counterterrorism and law enforcement officials to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.

DHS Partners With NFL for Super Bowl XLVI Suspicious Activity Reporting

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today traveled to Indianapolis to highlight the Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign’s continued partnership with the National Football League (NFL) to help ensure the safety and security of employees, players and fans during the regular season, and Super Bowl XLVI. “At a major national event like the Super Bowl, security is a shared responsibility and everybody has a role to play in identifying and reporting suspicious activities and threats,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Our partnership with the NFL on the “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign during the Super Bowl is a critical part of our efforts to ensure the safety of every employee, player and fan.”

The Most Technologically Secure Super Bowl Ever

If you watch the Super Bowl next Sunday, between the commercials and the elaborate half-time show, take a moment to to think about the one aspect of the event that you will not see: the massive deployment of federal and local law enforcement resources to achieve what is already being called “the most technologically secure Super Bowl in the history of the Super Bowl.” The game, which will take place February 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, will be secured by an unprecedented number of measures including dozens of newly-installed night-vision cameras, mobile gamma-ray scanners and a $18 million fusion center staffed with officials from various federal agencies and the military.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-USSS 2012 State of the Union Address Joint Threat Assessment

We have no specific or credible information indicating a threat to the US Capitol or the National Capital Region (NCR) to coincide with the 2012 State of the Union address. We assess, however, that al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and allies remain committed to attacking the Homeland and, as of February 2010, al-Qa‘ida identified the NCR and the State of the Union address itself as important targets, presumably for attacks. Moreover, homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) as well as lone offenders could view the event as an attractive target, offering the means to inflict casualties and garner extensive media coverage. Detecting homeland plots involving HVEs and lone offenders continues to challenge law enforcement and intelligence agencies due to the operational independence of the perpetrators, which can reduce or eliminate preoperational indicators.

DHS to Focus on Providing Intelligence to Local Governments, Private Sector to Counter Domestic Threats

Nearly a decade after Congress created the Department of Homeland Security to prevent other 9/11-style terrorist attacks, a bipartisan group of experts says it is time for the agency to shift its focus from foreign enemies to working with local governments and the private sector so it can secure the border and critical infrastructure from homegrown threats. “The growth of our expectations of domestic security, and the evolution of threats away from traditional state actors toward non-state entities — drug cartels, organized crime, and terrorism are prominent examples — suggest that the DHS intelligence mission should be threat agnostic,” said a report by the Aspen Homeland Security Group, which is co-chaired by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Congress Pressing DHS For Greater Monitoring of Social Media

Leaders of a congressional subcommittee are urging the Department of Homeland Security to extensively monitor social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to detect “current or emerging threats.” The top Republican and Democrat on a House counter-terrorism subcommittee last month sent a letter to Homeland Security’s intelligence chief encouraging department analysts to pore over huge streams of social media traffic. Representatives Patrick Meehan and Jackie Speier said in the letter to Caryn Wagner, undersecretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis, that they “believe it would be advantageous for DHS and the broader Intelligence Community to carefully parse the massive streams of data from various social media outlets to identify current or emerging threats to our homeland security.”