Department of Homeland Security

(U//FOUO) DHS Possible Implications of the Death of Osama bin Laden

The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses the death of al-Qa‘ida leader Usama Bin Ladin could result in retaliatory attacks in the Homeland and against US and Western interests overseas. Attacks might originate with al-Qa‘ida Core elements in the tribal areas of Pakistan, with one of their affiliates overseas, and/or with individuals in the homeland sympathetic to the cause but lacking a formal group association. We have no indications of advanced al-Qa‘ida Core plotting efforts in the Homeland, but the case of now-detained al-Qa‘ida operative Najibullah Zazi—who, along with two associates, planned to attack the New York City subway in 2009 using homemade explosives—demonstrates that unidentified operatives could advance plotting in the homeland.

(U//LES) DHS Milk Processing Facility Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

Successful contamination of fluid milk can have serious public health consequences, since the product moves through the distribution and consumption stages very quickly. The shelf life of fluid milk is short compared to the shelf life of other food products; fluid milk is bought and used by consumers in short time periods. This leads to the potential for a rapid spread of any contaminated product. Fluid milk is consumed by all segments of the population from infants to the elderly. Health impacts from contamination could reach a wide range of people, including those with limited ability to recover from an induced illness. Some milk products such as cheese and ice cream have longer shelf lives and more limited consumption patterns than does fluid milk. Health impacts from the contamination of these products would be confined to a smaller group. Moreover, the longer times between production and consumption allow for response actions (e.g., product recall) to be implemented more effectively.

(U//LES) DHS Electric Power Substations Terrorist Indicators Report

To consider terrorist threat indicators in relationship to electric power substations, it is useful to understand the basic structure of the industry and what general types of facilities might be attractive targets for terrorist attack. Electric power substations are attractive terrorist targets because the loss of electric power has both direct and indirect impacts. Direct impacts include, for example, interruption of home and commercial building heating or cooling, damage to electronic data and equipment, the inability to operate life-support systems in hospitals and homes, and damage to the electric grid. Without electric power, other critical infrastructures, such as transportation, water supply systems, telecommunications, and banking and finance, cannot function. Indirect impacts may also include fatalities, injuries, and expenses related to failures in these interdependent infrastructures.

(U//LES) DHS Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

LNG is typically created in a three-step process. First, gaseous-form natural gas, extracted from the ground in neighboring oil reservoirs, is “frozen” into a liquid state through a complex cryogenic process (called liquefaction). The LNG boiling point is -260°F. In a liquid state, the volume of the gas is greatly reduced; it would take 600 ships carrying natural gas to equal the cargo contained on just one LNG tanker. Thus, it is practical and economical to import natural gas from overseas. The density of LNG is 26.5 pounds per cubic foot, or less than half that of water. LNG is odorless, colorless, non-corrosive, and nontoxic.

(U//LES) DHS Agricultural Storage Facility Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

Traditionally, food in America is produced through a series of processes commonly referred to as the “farm to table” continuum. This process is comprised of multiple components, including production, distribution, processing, transportation, wholesaling, exporting/importing, retail sales, and consumption. Each component of the “farm to table” continuum is achieved in a variety of ways specific to the particular end product being produced. At multiple stages of these processes, raw agricultural products, farm input supplies, and consumer-ready foods are stored in large facilities. These agricultural storage facilities include facilities storing raw agricultural products (wheat, corn, apples, etc.) prior to processing; farm input supplies (fertilizers, chemicals, etc.), live animals (cattle, swine, chickens, etc.), or processed products ready for distribution and consumption (cheese, cereals, packaged products, etc.). In this regard, there is not a “typical” agricultural storage facility. Rather, a variety of facilities specific to the storage requirements of a given product or component serve the “farm to table” continuum.

(U//LES) DHS Wastewater Treatment Facility Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

Wastewater is water that has been used. It includes substances such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps, and chemicals. Wastewater is derived from residential, commercial, and industrial activities. In homes, wastewater is produced from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. Commercial and industrial activities also produce wastewater that must be treated prior to release to the environment. In addition to home and business production, wastewater can also be generated by storm runoff (referred to as inflow) and interception of ground water (infiltration). Because of potentially harmful substances that wash off roads, parking lots, and rooftops, this water must also be treated.

(U//LES) DHS Railroad Bridges Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

The national economy is based on timely rail deliveries, especially in light of industry’s current practice of just-in-time stocking arrangements. Railroad bridges can be critical chokepoints for high-volume rail lines moving freight from geographic areas of supply to other areas of demand. Furthermore, critical rail bridges are vital assets of the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET), a 38,800-mile interconnected network of rail corridors. The STRACNET supports the deployment of military forces across the U.S. to strategically located ports of embarkation.

DHS Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability and Terrorist Activity Indicator Reports

Over the next two weeks, Public Intelligence will be publishing several dozen reports from the Department of Homeland Security’s Protective Security Division concerning vulnerabilities and the detection of terrorist activity at critical infrastructure locations. This information was inadvertently disseminated by a non-profit organization that is concerned with domestic preparedness. Due to flaws in their website’s construction, a members area for sharing documentation was openly accessible to anyone and had been largely indexed in Google’s search results. The documents range in date from 2003-2004 and provide early background on critical infrastructure security activities, including known vulnerabilities that often have not been fixed and tenuous listings of so-called “suspicious activity” indicators. The documents also provide background on a number of “critical infrastructure” categories about which there has previously been a lack of publicly-available information. Some of these categories include railroad yards, wastewater treatment facilities, undersea cable landings and milk processing plants. For easier browsing, reports will be added to the list below as they are published.

(U//LES) DHS Banking Repositories Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

One of the key roles of the government is to maintain the stability of the nation’s financial system and to address and contain systematic risk that may arise in the financial markets. The financial repositories play an important role in market stability. Several agencies of the government (U.S. Treasury, U.S. Mint, Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Secret Service, FBI) are involved in the supply, distribution, storage, and security of U.S. currency, coins, and other market transactions and clearing transactions.

(U//LES) DHS Railroad Yards Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

Railroad yards can be located in any type of environment having a flat area sufficiently extensive and elongated to permit emplacement of intermodal loading tracks, sorting “humps,” classification “bowls,” or any combination thereof. Thus, yard properties may be sited in open plains or adjacent to hills or other high ground (Figure 3). In the latter case, there may be vulnerabilities to adversaries using longer range, stand-off weapons. Trains are put together in the classification yard, which is comprised of multiple parallel tracks branching out from a central track and connected by switches. Each of the parallel tracks is designated to receive cars with particular destinations along the route. A special locomotive, or switch engine, transports each car or group of cars to its assigned track. Depending on the sensitivity of the shipment and the type of classification yard, cars may be either “shoved to rest” or “humped.” If shoved to rest, the car remains attached to the engine until it couples with the adjacent car. If humped, the car is uncoupled at the top of a very gentle incline and allowed to travel freely downhill.

(U//LES) DHS Nuclear Spent Fuel Storage Vulnerabilities and Terrorist Indicators Reports

Spent fuel, after it is removed from the reactor core, is safely stored in specially designed pools at individual reactor sites around the country. The spent fuel is first placed into a spent fuel pool (Figure 1), which is like a deep swimming pool with racks to hold the fuel assemblies. It allows the fuel to begin cooling. The spent fuel is moved into the water pools from the reactor along the bottom of water canals, so that the spent fuel is always shielded to protect workers. Fuel assemblies are covered by a minimum of 25 feet of water within the pool, which provides adequate shielding from the radiation for anyone near the pool. Spent fuel pools are very robust structures that are constructed to withstand earthquakes and other natural phenomena and accidents. They are typically rectangular structures 20 to 40 feet wide, 30 to 60 feet long, and at least 40 feet deep. The outside walls are typically constructed of more than 3 feet of reinforced concrete. Spent fuel pools at pressurized water reactors (PWRs) are commonly located within an auxiliary building near the containment. Many of the PWR pools are located in the building’s interior. At boiling water reactors (BWRs), spent fuel pools are typically located at an elevated position within the reactor building, outside the primary containment area.

(U//LES) DHS Nuclear Fuel Cycle Characteristics and Common Vulnerabilities Report

Nuclear power plants in the U.S. use fuel rods that have been enriched in the uranium-235 (235U) fissile isotope. At the time of their insertion to the reactor, typical commercial power plant fuel rods contain approximately 2% to 5% 235U; the exact value depends on the details of the reactor design. This fuel remains in the reactor for up to three years or more, at which time fission product buildup necessitates its removal even though it still contains significant quantities of 235U.

(U//LES) DHS Nuclear Power Plants Characteristics and Common Vulnerabilities Reports

A nuclear power plant is an arrangement of components used to generate electric power. Nuclear power plants used in the United States (U.S.) are either boiling water reactors (BWRs) or pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Boiling water reactors (Figure 1) use a direct cycle in which water boils in the reactor core to produce steam, which drives a steam turbine. This turbine spins a generator to produce electric power. Pressurized water reactors (Figure 2) use an indirect cycle in which water is heated under high pressure in the reactor core and passes through a secondary heat exchanger to convert water in another loop to steam, which in turn drives the turbine. In the PWR design, radioactive water/steam never contacts the turbine. Except for the reactor itself, there is very little difference between a nuclear power plant and a coal- or oil-fired power plant.

(U//FOUO) DHS “Red Cell” Report: How Terrorists Might Use a Dirty Bomb

An independent, unclassified analytic Red Cell session, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, found a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) attack on the U.S. homeland to be highly appealing from a terrorist standpoint. The Red Cell group, which simulated two different terrorist cells, believed an RDD attack would be relatively easy to prepare and mount and could have wide-ranging physical, psychological, political, and economic impacts. The group believed radioactive materials would be easy to procure, especially from abroad, and found a variety of potential targets across the country. Participants expected that public distrust of official guidance would heighten fear and panic.

(U//FOUO) DHS “Red Cell” Report: How Terrorists Might Exploit a Hurricane

A key component of the IAIP/Competitive Analysis and Evaluation Office’s mission is convening a diverse range of governmental and nongovernmental experts who adopt a terrorist mindset to challenge traditional or existing assumptions about how terrorists might attack some aspect of our critical infrastructure. The ideas generated by these “red cells” contribute insights on potential terrorist threats to the homeland for state and local governments, law enforcement, and industry.

DHS Participation in Film and Television Productions Management Directive

It is Department of Homeland Security policy to use the broad authority granted in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, to further the Department’s missions, particularly with respect to disseminating the Department’s homeland security message. This directive sets Departmental policy for interaction between the Department and non-government, entertainment-oriented motion picture, television, advertising, video and multimedia productions/enterprises.

(U//FOUO) DHS Dams Sector Security Awareness Handbook

The Nation has more than 100,000 dams. Of this number, approximately 82,000 are listed in the National Inventory of Dams (NID), which generally includes dams greater than 25 feet in height or reservoirs having more than 50 acre-feet in storage capacity. In the NID, the downstream hazard potential (e.g., the amount of risk or damage a dam can pose because of failure or negligent operation) is classified as high, significant, or low. In the current NID database, approximately 12,000 dams are classified as high hazard potential from a dam safety perspective. However, only a very small percentage of high-hazard dams represent a potential for causing mass casualties.

(U//LES) El Paso Intelligence Center Bath Salts Synthetic Stimulant Bulletin

Across the United States, synthetic stimulants that are sold as “bath salts” have become a serious drug abuse threat. These products are produced under a variety of faux brand names, and they are indirectly marketed as legal alternatives to cocaine, amphetamine, and Ecstasy (MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Poison control centers nationwide have received hundreds of calls related to the side-effects of, and overdoses
from, the use of these potent and unpredictable products. Numerous media reports have cited bath salt stimulant overdose incidents that have resulted in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and severe psychotic episodes, some of which, have led to violent outbursts, self-inflicted wounds, and even suicides. A number of states have imposed emergency measures to ban bath salt stimulant products (or the chemicals in them) including Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia; and similar measures are pending in Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, and Mississippi. A prominent U.S. Senator has also recently proposed legislation that would ban the synthetic stimulant chemicals found in bath salt products at the federal level.

(U//LES) DHS-FBI Spokane White Supremacist MLK Parade IED Bulletin

Kevin William Harpham was arrested in Colville, Washington by federal law enforcement on 9 March 2011 in connection with the improvised explosive device (IED) found along the route of a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “MLK Unity March” in Spokane, Washington on 17 January 2011. On 17 January 2011, three sanitation workers in Spokane, Washington discovered a Swiss Army backpack containing an RCIED immediately prior to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “MLK Unity March.” The device was placed along the parade route. Based on preliminary forensic examinations, we assess with medium confidenceii that the IED was designed to fire directional fragmentation similar to a single shot shotgun with buckshot or cannon with a grapeshot round. We likewise assess that the device was viable and could have caused personal injury or death.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI Terrorist Exploitation of Postal and Commercial Shipping Companies

Terrorists remain interested in exploiting postal and commercial shipping companies to conduct or support attacks in the United States. Publicity surrounding the more than 40,000 incidents involving unknown or suspicious substances related to the U.S. Mail since 2001 likely reinforces violent extremists’ belief that the postal sector is a useful mechanism for conducting an attack, as it demonstrates that mail containing potentially harmful substances can be delivered without arousing suspicion or being discovered until the recipient opens the letter or package.

(U//FOUO) DHS Strategy for Improving Improvised Nuclear Device Attack Response

The mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) includes acting as a focal point regarding natural and manmade crises and emergency planning. In support of the Department’s mission, the primary mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation. Consistent with these missions, the Nuclear/Radiological Incident Annex to the National Response Framework (June 2008) sets forth DHS as the coordinating agency for all deliberate attacks involving nuclear/radiological materials, including radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) and improvised nuclear devices (INDs).