We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process. Decisions made by state election officials on expanding vote-by-mail and adjusting in-person voting to accommodate challenges posed by COVID-19 have become topics of public debate. This public discussion represents a target for foreign malign influence operations that seeks to undermine faith in the electoral process by spreading disinformation about the accuracy of voter data for expanded vote-by-mail, outbound/inbound mail ballot process, signature verification and cure process, modifying scale of in-person voting, and safety and health concerns at polling places, according to CISA guidance documents provided to state and local election officials.
We assess that some violent opportunists have become more emboldened following a series of attacks against law enforcement during the last 24 hours nationwide. This could lead to an increase in potentially lethal engagements with law enforcement officials as violent opportunists increasingly infiltrate ongoing protest activity. We also have received an increase in reports on shots fired during lawful protests nationwide—an indicator we associate with the potential for increased violence moving forward—and several uncorroborated reports of probably violent opportunists pre-staging improvised weapons at planned protest venues. Law enforcement officers continue to be the primary targets of firearm attacks, though several incidents last night involved violent opportunists shooting into crowds of protestors.
We assess that violent opportunists will continue to exploit ongoing nationwide lawful protests as a pretext to attempt to disrupt law enforcement operations; target law enforcement personnel, assets, and facilities; and damage public and private property. We have identified multiple tactics currently at play, including the use of weapons, counter-mobility, physical barriers, screening and concealment, intercepted communications, and pre-operational activities.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Ongoing Violence, Information Narratives Nationwide Poses Continued Threat to Law Enforcement
In the last 24 hours the types of people or groups seeking to carry out violence in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has shifted in many cities. The initial violent looters and protestors were believed to be organic members of the local communities. However, domestic violent extremists are attempting to structure the protests to target specific symbols of state, local, and federal authority. We anticipate armed individuals will continue to infiltrate the protest movement. We assess with high confidence during the period of darkness from 30 to 31 May the violent protest movements will grow and DVEs and others will seek to take over government facilities and attack law enforcement.
The New Jersey Regional Operations & Intelligence Center (ROIC) conducted research regarding the process necessary for successful recovery from COVID-19. This research and subsequent analysis focused on proper return-to-work procedures for first responders, while ensuring the safety of all. Although limited data is available specifically referencing first responders, numerous international scientific studies provide best practices for determining an individual’s ability to safely resume their duties. Links for more information are provided throughout this report.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: Cybercriminals See Opportunity to Exploit Online Distance Learning Platforms and Users
Most US school districts as of 23 March 2020 are and will remain closed until the end of the academic school year or “until further notice” because of COVID-19, according to data provided by a Maryland-based online publication that provides scholastic news and analysis. This Article assumes that while pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, institutions of higher education, and business and trade schools are closed, many are relying on internet-enabled distance learning (eLearning) alternatives in place of traditional classroom instruction.
(U//FOUO) DHS Bulletin: APT Actors Likely View Zoom Vulnerabilities as Opportunity to Threaten Public and Private Sector Entities
APT actors likely will identify new or use existing vulnerabilities in Zoom to compromise user devices and accounts for further exploitation of corporate networks. This judgment includes critical infrastructure entities using Zoom. We base this judgment on recent public exposure of Zoom’s numerous vulnerabilities. While vendors regularly publish patches for vulnerabilities, reports indicate there are instances in which users and organizations delay updates. The patching process is undermined by APT actors who often capitalize on delays and develop exploits based on the vulnerability and available patches.
(U//FOUO) California State Warning Center Situation Cell Incident Report 2020 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) February 9, 2020
Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including whether and how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus. Investigations are ongoing to learn more, but some degree of person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV is occurring. It is not clear yet how easily 2019-nCoV spreads from person-to-person. While CDC considers this as a serious public health concern, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.
Based on our analysis of terrorist publications such as Rumiyah and observations of terrorism-inspired events worldwide, we believe terrorist organizations overseas have advocated conducting vehicle ramming attacks against crowds, buildings, and other vehicles, using modified or unmodified large-capacity vehicles. Such attacks could target locations where large numbers of people congregate, including sporting events, entertainment venues, shopping centers, or celebratory gatherings such as parades.
(U//FOUO) National Reconnaissance Office Acquisition Manual Change Prohibiting Procurement from Huawei, ZTE, and Other Chinese Companies
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Acquisition Manual is hereby amended by adding new sub-part N4.21, Prohibition on Contracting for Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment, to implement a provision of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting the procurement and use of covered equipment and services produced or provided by Huawei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company.
(U//FOUO) DHS Intelligence Bulletin: Worldwide Terrorist Operations Linked to Lebanese Hizballah or Iran
This Reference Aid examines tactics and targets garnered from a review of attacks or disrupted terrorist operations from 2012-2018 linked to either Lebanese Hizballah (LH) or Iran. It identifies behaviors and indicators that may rise to the level for suspicious activity reporting in areas such as recruitment, acquisition of expertise, materiel and weapons storage, target type, and operational security measures, which could assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism agencies, law enforcement officials, and private sector partners in detecting, preventing, preempting, and disrupting potential terrorist activity in the Homeland. This Reference Aid does not imply these indicators would necessarily be observed or detected in every situation or that LH and Iran necessarily use the same tactics or demonstrate the same indicators. Some of these detection opportunities may come during the course of normal investigations into illegal activities in the United States such as illicit travel or smuggling of drugs, weapons, or cash, and lead to the discovery of pre-operational activity.
(U//LES) FBI Bulletin: Anti-Government, Fringe Political Conspiracy Theories Likely Motivate Domestic Extremists to Commit Criminal, Violent Activity
The FBI assesses anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to commit criminal and sometimes violent activity. The FBI further assesses in some cases these conspiracy theories very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets. These assessments are made with high confidence, based on information from other law enforcement agencies, open source information, court documents, human sources with varying degrees of access and corroboration, and FBI investigations.
China plans to defeat powerful adversaries by systematically targeting the linkages and nodes that hold an advanced network-centric force together as a cohesive whole. The PLA calls this theory of victory “systems attack and destruction warfare,” hereafter, “system attack. Authoritative PLA doctrine emphasizes importance of system attack as China’s “basic operational method” of warfare. System attack is perhaps best remembered as “the American way of war with Chinese characteristics,” since the PLA developed the concept based on observing U.S. military victories In the 1990s. Some of the PLA’s writings on systems attack are clearly aspirational, but this does not preclude the effectiveness of the approach, and the doctrine shows that the Pl.A is thinking seriously and realistically about how to defeat.an advanced adversary. The requirements of system attack are actively driving PLA reform, acquisitions, operations and training, and the doctrine telegraphs how Chine intends to fight.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Appears in Video for the First Time in Nearly Five Years
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on the recent video appearance by the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video addresses the group’s territorial defeat in Syria, discusses the acceptance of pledges of allegiance from ISIS supporters, and praises recent attacks in Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. This JIB is provided by the FBI, DHS, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States. All video details described in this JIB are taken from the translated transcript of Baghdadi’s speech.
(U//FOUO) FBI Counterintelligence Note: Update on Huawei Chinese Government-Subsidized Telecommunications Company March 2018
With the expanded use of Huawei Technologies Inc. equipment and services in US telecommunications service provider networks, the Chinese Government’s potential access to US business communications is dramatically increasing. China’s intelligence services and Chinese cyber actors could exploit Chinese Government-supported telecommunication equipment on US networks operating as an advanced persistent threat. China makes no secret that its cyber warfare strategy is predicated on controlling global communications network infrastructure.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Report: Envisioning the Emergence of Shia Homegrown Violent Extremist Plotters in the US
We assess that a Shia homegrown violent extremist (HVE) attack in the US is highly unlikely absent a catalyzing event that could galvanize some US-based Shia to engage independently in violence. Given sustained bilateral US-Iran tensions, the occurrence of such a catalyst could prompt Shia HVE activity relatively quickly, underscoring the benefits of early engagement with Shia communities about indicators of HVE radicalization. Potential triggering events for such Shia HVE violence include US military action against Iran and Lebanese Hizballah, Shia leadership or senior clerics sanctioning violence in the US, prominent Sunni government attacks on Shia, or high-profile anti-Shia activity in the US, judging from the results of a structured NCTC brainstorming exercise.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Guide: Sunni Extremist Attacks and Plots in the US Before 9/11
NCTC assesses that the Sunni extremist threat to the US before 9/11 was characterized by diverse extremist organizations and lone actors motivated by multiple ideological narratives and other factors, including Salafi jihadism, Palestinian nationalism, theological disputes within Islam, anti-Semitism, and anti-Hindu sentiments. We have identified a dozen successful attacks, four disrupted plots, and one attempt to set up an extremist training camp in the US between 1973 and 2001, underscoring the persistent threat from al-Qa‘ida–associated extremists, Palestinian terrorist groups, and Sunni extremist lone actors in the decades leading up to 9/11. These extremists chose a wide array of targets, with the majority of their attacks before 1993 focused on Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim individuals or institutions. Most attacks after that date were against civilian or US Government targets, because of al-Qa‘ida–associated extremists’ focus on indiscriminate mass casualty attacks. In some cases, we lack clear insight into the attackers’ motivations because of information gaps, and FBI disagrees about the motivations underlying two of these attacks.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Attacks on Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand May Inspire Supporters of Violent Ideologies
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on Australian national and violent extremist Brenton Tarrant’s 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. These attacks underscore the enduring nature of violent threats posed to faith-based communities. FBI, DHS, and NCTC advise federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners responsible for securing faith-based communities in the Homeland to remain vigilant in light of the enduring threat to faith-based communities posed by domestic extremists (DEs), as well as by homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who may seek retaliation.
(U//FOUO) National Domestic Communications Assistance Center Presentation: Quantifying Law Enforcement’s “Going Dark” Problem
The number of active shooter incidents in schools (ASIS) has remained steady over the past 18 years, with an average of 2.8 shootings per year. ASIS are most likely to happen at the high school level or higher (37 out of 52). The average deaths from ASIS was 7.4; however, this includes the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 32 and 26 people died, respectively. Most of the deaths from ASIS resulted during incidents that met the threshold for a mass killing (81 percent).
The idea of invisibility has fascinated people for millennia, inspiring many myths, novels, and films. Invisibility cloaking has recently become a subject of science and technology. This paper describes the important current theoretical and experimental developments and tries to project into the future.
Cross-border gangs play a unique role in the illicit transfer of people and goods across the southwest border. According to law enforcement reporting. Mexican cartels utilize US gangs to smuggle drugs and illegal aliens northbound. and smuggle cash. stolen automobiles. and weapons southbound. US gangs often freelance their work and seek profit-making opportunities with multiple cartels.
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.