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.
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of current approaches to countering terrorist narratives. The first and second sections outline the different responses developed at the global and European Union levels. The third section presents an analysis of four different approaches to responding to terrorist narratives: disruption of propaganda distribution, redirect method, campaign and message design, and government communications and synchronisation of message and action. The final section offers a number of policy recommendations, highlighting five interrelated ‘lines of effort’ essential to maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism strategic communication.
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.
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.
(U//FOUO) NCTC Homegrown Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators for Public Safety Personnel 2017 Edition
The indicators of violent extremist mobilization described herein are intended to provide federal, state, local, territorial and tribal law enforcement a roadmap of observable behaviors that could inform whether individuals or groups are preparing to engage in violent extremist activities including potential travel overseas to join a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The indicators are grouped by their assessed levels of diagnosticity—meaning how clearly we judge the behavior demonstrates an individual’s trajectory towards terrorist activity.
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 Intelligence Note: Germany Christmas Market Attack Underscores Threat to Mass Gatherings and Open-Access Venues
A 25-ton commercial truck transporting steel beams from Poland to Germany plowed into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin at about 2000 local time on 19 December, killing at least 12 people and injuring 48 others, several critically, according to media reporting citing public security officials involved in the investigation. The truck was reportedly traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour when it rammed the Christmas market stands. Police estimate the vehicle traveled 80 yards into the Christmas market before coming to a halt.
Despite battlefield losses, ISIS continues to operate its own terrorist pseudostate and claims a growing global footprint. At least 34 radical Islamist groups have pledged their allegiance to ISIS. As of this printing, the organization has managed to expand its presence to dozens of countries and territories—in addition to recruiting tens of thousands of fighters from over 120 nations. Most alarmingly, ISIS is driving an unprecedented surge of terror plots against the West and poses a persistent and grave threat to the U.S. homeland.
A joint intelligence bulletin issued in late August by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) assesses that homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are “increasingly favoring civilian targets” as opposed to government facilities and personnel. Previous assessments have found that HVEs are most likely to prioritize “law enforcement personnel, military members, and US Government-associated targets.” However, a recent shift towards civilian targets has likely been driven by the accessibility of “soft targets” that are less secure and provide greater opportunities for mass casualty attacks.
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide new insight into the targeting preferences of some homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and to examine detection challenges and opportunities. This JIB is provided by 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 within the United States.
Joint Staff Strategic Assessment: Counter-Da’esh Influence Operations Cognitive Space Narrative Simulation Insights
When planning to deal with any adversary or potential adversaries, it is essential to understand who they are, how they function, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and why they oppose us. Events over the course of the last year and a half highlight the importance of those factors as they relate to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh). One of Da’esh’s obvious strengths is its ability to propagate tailored messages that resonate with its audiences. If the US Government and our allies are to counter Da’esh effectively, we must attack this center of gravity.
This data set consists of twenty-one teleoperated weapons systems used by terrorist and insurgent groups. It is worth noting that there are many more systems’ images available, but no group affiliation could be associated with them, which is why they were not included in this research project. The plethora of videos and photos on social media indicates that terror and insurgent groups are increasingly turning to improvised weaponry use on the battlefield. One class of improvised weapon that is emerging is remote controlled sniper rifles and machine guns. They are being used across Syria, Iraq, and a lone case in Libya as early as 2011. Typically, rifles or machine guns are improvised to be secured on a base—either mobile or stationary—and linked to cables, which are connected to a remote and screen. Some systems are more refined than others, such as with cameras, but all have at least proven to be somewhat effective.
What follows is an assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from a socio-cultural perspective. We have employed a modified PMESII-PT framework for analysis (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information, Physical Terrain, Time). We have modified PMESII-PT in three ways to emphasize the socio-cultural aspect of this analysis. First, we have expanded the concept of Military to cover all coercive forces in the area of interest. The expanded category includes law enforcement, pro and anti-government paramilitaries, militias, external forces, etc. Second, we added Population and Culture as separate categories. Arguably, these categories could be covered in PMESII-PT under Society, but we saw them as sufficiently important to merit separate chapters. Third, we have expanded the concept of Information, which we have titled Communications, to account for both how information is communicated and how it is received within the society under analysis. With that as background, here is a synopsis of our major findings by category in our modified PMESII-PT framework.
U.S. House of Representatives Joint Task Force on U.S. Central Command ISIL Intelligence Analysis Report
The Joint Task Force was created by the Chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to investigate the allegations of a whistleblower that intelligence produced by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) had been manipulated to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Although investigations into the whistleblower’s allegations continue, the Joint Task Force has conducted sufficient investigation to reach certain interim conclusions. Those conclusions are contained in this report. However, the Joint Task Force awaits the completion of the ongoing Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) investigation into this matter.
As of 5 May 2016, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Sympathizer hacking group United Cyber Caliphate (UCC) defaced a Nigerian-hosted Web site, posting an html file containing the heading “USA Online Company Data Dumped by United Cyber Caliphate,” there was no other message or threat associated with the file. The file contained approximately 1,137 entries, many of which appeared to be US-based individuals with corresponding personally identifiable information (PII) fields such as name, company, e-mail, phone, city, state, and zip code. The PII was doxed from the personnel directory of a US business, according to FBI and open source reporting.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing this advisory to provide financial institutions with information on identifying and reporting transactions possibly associated with Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) who support the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates in Iraq and the Lev ant region. Financial institutions may use this information to enhance their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) risk-based strategies and monitoring systems. This advisory is not intended to call into question financial institutions’ maintenance of normal relationships with other financial institutions, or to be used as basis for engaging in wholesale or indiscriminate de-risking practices.
This paper was produced in support of the Strategic Multi-layer Assessment (SMA) of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) led by Joint Staff J39 in support of the Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). The paper leverages and melds the latest thinking of academic and operational subject matter experts in fields of organizational and social dynamics, network analysis, psychology, information operations and narrative development, social media analysis, and doctrine development related to aspects of maneuver and engagement in the narrative space.