Terrorist and militant attacks on electric power infrastructure outside the United States in 2021 and 2022 occurred at more than three times the average annual number of attacks from 2015 through 2020, according to an NCTC database. The peak of 101 attacks in 2021 at least partly reflected incidents attributed to ISIS’s “economic war” campaign, judging from press reporting and terrorist social media. We expect the high rate of attacks to continue for the remainder of 2023 because of the accessibility and ongoing vulnerability of electricity infrastructure and the number of well-publicized attacks in 2021-22.
Electricity is critical to every aspect of modern life. The United States’ national security, economy, and public health and safety rely on the North American electric grid every second of the day. These, and many other functions powered by the grid have likely experienced local outages caused by weather, accidents, or sometimes from tree branches falling on power lines. Larger power outages, however, are infrequent occurrences, due in part to an array of organizations that work tirelessly to ensure the grid remains reliable, resilient, and secure. Nonetheless, it is neither practical nor possible to prevent all disruptive events. Grid owners and operators balance risk, investment, and cost to customers when making investments in their systems.
(U//FOUO) DHS Infrastructure Protection Note: Most Significant Tactics Against the Electricity Subsector
This IP Note is a joint publication of OCIA and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Homeland Counterterrorism Division. It is intended to identify high- consequence tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used during attacks and incidents that occurred at electrical substations, facilities, and associated electrical infrastructure from 2002 to 2013. The incidents identified in this report have no known nexus to terrorism.