Counterterrorism Weekly is an UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY compilation of open source publicly available press and relevant commentary on issues related to terrorism and counterterrorism over the past seven days. It is produced every Wednesday, excluding holidays. Counterterrorism Weekly is produced by the National Counterterrorism Center and contains situational awareness items detailing ongoing terrorism-related developments which may be of interest to Federal, State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement, security, military personnel, and first responders. Information contained in the Counterterrorism Weekly is subject to change as a situation further develops.
(U//FOUO) CBP Draft Report: Demographic Profile of Terrorists Post-9/11 Reveals Screening Implications
This assessment covers the demographic profile of the perpetrators, consisting of age, citizenship, gender, immigration status, national origin, international travel and religious background. This assessment is intended to inform United States foreign visitor screening, immigrant vetting and on-going evaluations of United States-based individuals who might have a higher risk of becoming radicalized and conducting a violent attack. This information is cut-off as of 22 January 2018.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Chemical Splash and Spray Attacks Potential Tactic for Violent Extremists in Homeland
We assess that terrorists likely view tactics involving throwing or spraying acids and a variety of chemical liquids, hereafter referred to as a chemical spray and splash attack (CSSA), as a viable tactic to cause injury and disrupt critical infrastructure, judging from open source reporting describing terrorist social media posts and terrorist and violent extremist use of this tactic overseas. An analysis of a small number of incidents described in media reporting revealed that CSSAs are commonly used by criminal actors to further criminal activities and by violent extremist groups overseas to create fear, intimidate, punish, and disfigure individuals and groups that resist their control or ideology in their area of operations; the tactic, however, has rarely been operationalized by actors in the Homeland. We note, however, that homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and lone offenders likely would find this tactic appealing and could easily adapt it to the Homeland, as it requires no specific technical expertise and the materials most often associated with criminal attack are usually unregulated and widely available.
assesses the increase in the number of vehicle-ramming attacks since January 2016 indicates Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) messaging efforts are probably resonating with violent extremists and will most likely continue in the near term. FTO-inspired violent extremists will probably continue to plan and engage in vehicle-ramming attacks against Western-based mass gathering and public venues since this tactic often requires minimal training, expertise, and preoperational planning. Since January 2016, eight FTO-inspired vehicle-ramming attacks have occurred in Western countries. OCIA identified three common characteristics among these attacks: targeting of public venues or mass gatherings; use of secondary weapons; and lack of observable indicators immediately before the attack.
NCTC assesses that the Sunni violent extremist threat in the US has evolved from one defined by complex, large-scale attacks directed by a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) to mostly self-initiated attacks by homegrown violent extremists using relatively simple methods. Of the 28 Sunni violent extremist attacks in the US since 9/11 only three were directed by an FTO. Most attacks were perpetrated by individuals enabled—through encouragement or operational support—or inspired by ISIS, al-Qa‘ida, and al-Qa‘ida affiliates.
(U//LES) FBI Intelligence Assessment: Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers
The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence. The FBI assess it is very likely this increase began following the 9 August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Grand Jury November 2014 declination to indict the police officers involved. The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement. The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology. The FBI has high confidence in these assessments, based on a history of violent incidents attributed to individuals who acted on behalf of their ideological beliefs, documented in FBI investigations and other law enforcement and open source reporting. The FBI makes this judgment with the key assumption the recent incidents are ideologically motivated.
In August, ISIS released a seven-minute, English-language video encouraging would-be fighters to travel to the Philippines instead of Syria and Iraq. The video was the latest sign the group has shifted its recruiting tactics as it loses ground to Coalition Forces in the Middle East. Asia has become a new focus for ISIS, according to private sector analysts, such as Flashpoint Intelligence.
(U//FOUO) DHS Reference Aid: Overview of Recently Successful or Arrested HVEs’ Radicalization to Violence
This Reference Aid is based on I&A’s review of the radicalization to violence of 39 US homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who either successfully carried out or were arrested before attempting to carry out attacks in the Homeland between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016. It is intended to inform federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial counterterrorism, law enforcement, and countering violent extremism (CVE) officials. For additional information about these HVEs, please see the classified I&A Intelligence Assessment “(U//FOUO) Commonalities in HVEs’ Radicalization to Violence Provide Prevention Opportunities,” published 10 February 2017.
This case study is an examination of behaviors that resulted in a disrupted terrorist attack, revealing a cycle of planning and preparation that could provide indicators for preventing similar attempts. The terrorist attack planning cycle is not a static, linear process but rather could begin in any of the several stages with variances in details, sequence, and timing. An individual’s mobilization to violence often provides observable behavioral indicators such as, pre-attack surveillance, training, and rehearsal. The indicators potentially allow third-party observers and law enforcement to identify individuals moving to violence, circumstances that may allow for disruption of planned attacks. This product is intended to cultivate an awareness of the planning cycle among stakeholders for identification, mitigation, and disruption of attack planning.
Terrorist and violent extremist groups have long expressed interest in poisoning and adulterating food and beverage supplies in the West but rarely use this as a tactic. Nonetheless, recent incidents in Europe and Africa underscore the continued interest by some groups in targeting food products at point-of-sale, distribution, and storage. The mere threat of product adulteration in the Homeland almost certainly would cause psychological and economic harm. While we have not seen any specific, credible terrorist threats against Homeland food production and distribution infrastructure, we cannot rule out the possibility of inspired violent extremists or disgruntled insiders attempting to adulterate or poison food and beverages with commonly available toxic industrial chemicals or crude biological toxins due to the relative ease of product manipulation, especially at the last point of sale, which criminal actors have demonstrated consistently in the past.
On December 2, 2015 at about 10:58 am San Bernardino Police began to receive numerous calls of shots fired at the Inland Regional Center located at 1365 South Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino. Initial calls indicated that there were several gunshots heard. Another call reported that there were two or possibly three subjects in all black clothing and masks armed with assault weapons. Within a matter of three to four minutes there were multiple calls reporting that multiple masked subjects had entered in the conference room, located in Building 3 of the Inland Regional Center, and opened fire in the main conference room.
Recent calls over the past year for attacks on hospitals in the West by media outlets sympathetic to the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) highlight terrorists’ perception of hospitals as viable targets for attack. Targeting hospitals and healthcare facilities is consistent with ISIS’s tactics in Iraq and Syria, its previous calls for attacks on hospitals in the West, and the group’s calls for attacks in the West using “all available means.” While we have not seen any specific, credible threat against hospitals and healthcare facilities in the United States, we remain concerned that calls for such attacks may resonate with some violent extremists and lone offenders in the Homeland because of their likely perceived vulnerabilities and value as targets.
(U//FOUO) DHS, Fusion Centers Reference Aid: Malicious Terrorism Hoaxes Likely to Endure, Strain State and Local First Responder Resources
This Reference Aid is intended to provide information on malicious terrorism hoaxes that will continue to challenge first responder resources throughout the Homeland and territories. This Reference Aid is provided by I&A, DIAC, NCRIC, NVRIC, and NJ-ROIC to support their respective activities, to provide situational awareness, and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and first responders with recognizing the indicators and implications of malicious terrorism hoaxes. The use of hoax calls may also be used as a technique to lure authorities to a particular location for the purpose of conducting a potential attack, but is not discussed in this article, as luring is viewed as its own distinct tactic.
(U//FOUO) New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center Bulletin: Improvised Explosive Device Awareness
The NJ ROIC currently has no specific indication of any credible specific threats to transportation facilities. However, with the rise in “self-radicalized” actor(s), and homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) influenced by ISIL and other terror groups, targeted violent attacks to any of these sectors could occur with little or no notice by an individual(s) who has not yet garnered law enforcement attention. This advisory highlights recent transportation concerns in the wake of the recent attacks in Belgium.
Several recent incidents underline the possibility that soft targets, including entertainment venues such as bars and restaurants, are increasingly chosen over hard targets that may hold more significance to the victims and the attacking person or group. Using analysis of recent events and data from the START Global Terrorism Database, the BRIC completed the following study to raise awareness regarding the targeting of entertainment venues by violent extremist groups.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Used in November 2015 Paris Attacks
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide a review of the tactics, techniques, and procedures demonstrated by the perpetrators of the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, France. This JIB does not provide analysis of any follow-on operations or operations occurring in Europe in the wake of the attacks. It relies on a variety of open source and media reporting for the analysis, which could change as official details of the post-incident investigations come to light. This JIB is intended to support the activities of DHS, FBI and NCTC to assist federal, state, and local government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials, first responders, and private-sector security partners in effectively deterring, preventing, preempting, or responding to terrorist attacks against the United States.
Joint Staff Strategic Assessment: Neurobiological Insights on Radicalization and Mobilization to Violence
This concise review presents theories, findings, and techniques from the neurobiology and cognitive sciences, as well as insights from the operational community, to provide a current and comprehensive description of why individuals and groups engage in violent political behavior. This report is based primarily on recent findings from the academic community. It has been compiled with the policy, planning, and operational community as the primary audience.
(U//FOUO) Two disrupted plots in Europe earlier this year highlight terrorists possible interest in impersonating first responders through the acquisition of authentic or fraudulent uniforms, equipment, vehicles, and other items which may be associated with government, military, law enforcement, fire,…
Netherlands National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism Global Jihadism and Radicalization Analysis
This report looks in greater depth at the phenomenon of global jihadism and how it manifests itself in the Netherlands. It addresses the question of what global jihadism actually involves and what factors have led to its current revival. We must try to understand jihadism and the form it takes in the Netherlands: an understanding of this phenomenon, and of its underlying processes and motives, is a vital prerequisite for devising an appropriate approach. This analysis therefore starts with the ideology behind jihadism. It will also reflect on the process of radicalisation that occurs before a person embraces extremist views. After all, in order to intervene effectively to halt radicalisation it is important to understand the potential appeal of extremist ideas and why some people are susceptible to them.