Examples of the National Counterterrorism Center’s Counterterrorism Weekly for America’s Protectors from April 2016, a “compilation of open source publicly available press and relevant commentary on issues related to terrorism and counterterrorism over the past seven days.”
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.
Syria and its ongoing civil war represent an operational environment (OE) that includes many of the characteristics illustrative of the complexities of modern warfare. Now in its fourth year, the civil war in Syria has lured a variety of threat actors from the Middle East and beyond. What began as a protest for improved opportunities and human rights has devolved into a full-scale civil war. As the Syrian military and security forces fought to subdue the civil unrest across the country, these protest groups responded with increasing violence aided by internal and external forces with a long history of terrorist activity. Ill-suited for the scale of combat that was unfolding across the country, Syrian forces turned to their allies for help, including Hezbollah and Iran. The inclusion of these forces has in many ways transformed the military of President Bashar al Assad from a conventional defensive force to a counterinsurgency force.
This Tactical Action Report (TAR) provides information on the capture and subsequent recapture of Sinjar, a town at the foot of the Sinjar Mountains. The Nineveh Offensive, of which Sinjar was a key target, led to the capture of a large part of northern Iraq and included the occupation of Mosul. ISIL pushed Peshmerga forces from the area and threatened Erbil, the government seat of the KRG in 2014. A growing humanitarian crisis developed as ISIL began purging villages in the Sinjar area of the minority group known as Yazidis. Thousands were killed, kidnapped, or forced to flee their homes. Many Yazidis retreated to the Sinjar Mountains where they were besieged by ISIL fighters. These circumstances led to President Barack Obama ordering air strikes to protect Erbil, where US military advisors were headquartered, and to relieve the displaced Yazidi civilians. Over a year later Peshmerga fighters, with the help of other Kurdish factions, pushed ISIL forces out of Sinjar and other surrounding areas and severed a key supply route connecting ISIL-held Raqqa, Syria, with Mosul, Iraq.
(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Used in March 2016 Brussels Attacks
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide a review of the tactics, techniques, and procedures demonstrated by the perpetrators of the 22 March 2016 attacks in Brussels, Belgium. The analysis in this JIB is based on statements by European government and law enforcement officials cited in media reporting and is subject to change with the release of official details from post-incident investigations. This JIB is provided by DHS, FBI, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials, first responders and private sector partners in deterring, preventing, preempting, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States.
Over the past 18-24 months, an unknown number of online extremists have conducted “hacktivist” cyber operations – primarily Web site defacements, denial-of-service attacks, and release of personally identifiable information (PII) in an effort to spread pro-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) propaganda and to incite violence against the United States and the West. Recent open source reporting from the Daily Mail India, indicates ISIL is recruiting Indian hackers and offering upwards of $10,000 USD per job to hack government Web sites, steal data, and to build social media databases for recruiting purposes. Indian officials believe as many as 30,000 hackers in India may have been contacted. The FBI cannot confirm the validity of the media reports, and beyond this single article on Indian hackers and ISIL, does not have information indicating any such relationship exists to date. The FBI assesses this activity is most likely independent of ISIL’s leaders located in Syria and Iraq.
Today we are witnessing the largest global convergence of jihadists in history, as individuals from more than 100 countries have migrated to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq since 2011. Some initially flew to the region to join opposition groups seeking to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, but most are now joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), inspired to become a part of the group’s “caliphate” and to expand its repressive society. Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined or attempted to fight with extremists in the conflict zone.
Over 15 million people have been displaced due to conflict in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented at least 260,000 Syrians killed in the conflict since it began in 2011. The UN reported at least 26,600 Iraqis killed from 2014-2015 due to acts of terrorism and violence.
In September 2014, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a propaganda video encouraging its followers to murder “intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers and civilians.” The video was re-released in January 2015 and specifically named the United States, France, Australia and Canada as targets. Now, first responders have an additional threat: Impersonation and misrepresentation by terrorists as first responders. The impersonators main goals are to further their attack plan and do harm to unsuspecting citizens as well as members of the emergency services community.
It has now been five years since the events of the “Arab Spring,” and initial optimism about lasting democratic reforms and an era of lessened tensions has been replaced by fear and skepticism. Many countries are now experiencing greater instability and violence than before. The vestiges of Al Qaeda in Iraq have morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (or the Levant)—ISIS or ISIL, sweeping through Iraq and Syria and leaving behind much death and destruction. The growth of violent extremism initiated by Al Qaeda and its radical interpretation of the Islamic ideology is continuing. ISIL’s deft manipulation of social media to compel and mobilize individuals to act out violently is both remarkable and frightening.
Joint Chiefs of Staff White Paper on Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Underpinnings of ISIL Behavior
This White Paper makes a significant contribution to the study of terrorist behavior in general and ISIL behavior in particular. Unique in this work is the melding of neuroscientific considerations about the basic structures and functions of the brain with social and cultural influences in order to provide a holistic insight into the motivations for terrorist behaviors. Importantly, this paper also explores the relationship between the narratives that support terrorist behavior and the neuro-cognitive processes that contribute to those behaviors. That relationship is accurately portrayed as symbiotic in the sense that one can only truly understand seemingly aberrant behavior if one understands the continuous ebb and flow of chemical and cultural influences that are manifested in an individual’s actions.
An analysis of recent suicide bombings throughout the Middle East, Europe and Africa by the FBI Terrorism Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) that was released after the terrorist attacks in Paris, France last month states that “suicide vest and belt improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Middle Eastern, African, and European regions likely . . . have minimal correlation” and do not indicate tactical migration.
(U//LES) FBI Suicide Vest and Belt Use in Middle East, Africa, and Europe Show Minimal Signs of Tactic Migration
The FBI Terrorism Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) assesses the tactics used to construct suicide vest and belt improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Middle Eastern, African, and European regions likely have minimal correlation. Use of these tactics allows suicide bombers to discretely move to a desired target location and make real-time decisions to maximize lethality. The suicide belt design allows the wearer to conceal the device and blend in with their surrounding environment, as well as to position themselves in potentially crowded environments while not raising suspicion.
(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.
Since 2013, the country has experienced several waves of Libyan returnees, which also formed the backbone of the newly established ISIL in Libya. In addition, the country continues to attract foreign terrorist fighters in significant numbers from North Africa. While currently concentrated in its stronghold in Sirte, ISIL could seek local alliances to expand its territorial control, also entailing the risk of motivating additional foreign terrorist fighters to join the group in Libya.
The DDIS Intelligence Risk Assessment gives an overview of our current intelligence-based assessments of developments in a number of countries and conflict areas and provides an outline of foreign policy issues that may impact on Denmark’s security. This year’s Risk Assessment emphasizes the terrorist threat posed by militant Islamist groups, Russia’s attempt at repositioning itself as a great power, cyber espionage against businesses and public authorities, and the conflict-ridden and unstable situation in the Middle East and North Africa. The analyses contained in this risk assessment are based on classified intelligence. The assessment is, however, unclassified and aimed at a wide audience, which limits the level of detail in analyses.
Early tests show that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) used chemical agents during an attack on Kurdish Peshmerga forces on August 11 in Makhmour, Iraq. U.S. government officials reported that preliminary tests on shell fragments indicated a presence of chemical agents, although additional analyses would be necessary to determine the full composition. Early media reports have pointed to the use of mustard agent. Overall, ISIL’s use of mustard agent appears to be largely undeveloped – although the group is likely seeking to advance its capabilities – and there is no evidence that they have used mustard agent (also known as mustard gas) against civilian interests at this point.
This report highlights that understanding how a terrorist organisation manages its assets is critical to starving the organisation of funds and disrupting their activities in the long term. Terrorist organisations have different needs, depending on whether they are large, small, or simply constituted of a network of seemingly isolated individuals. The section on financial management explores the use of funds by terrorist organisations, not only for operational needs but also for propaganda, recruitment and training, and the techniques used to manage these funds, including allocating specialised financial roles. The report finds that authorities need to do further work to identify and target various entities responsible for these functions.
(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,…
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin highlights the potential risks for US persons traveling to Syria or Iraq to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or expressing online a desire to do so. The FBI, DHS, and NCTC remain concerned that US persons traveling to combat ISIL are at risk of being killed, wounded, or captured. Further, ISIL members or supporters could attempt disingenuously to identify and target US persons so as to harm them before or upon their arrival in Syria or Iraq. The State Department has issued travel warnings for both Iraq and Syria and the US Government does not support US persons traveling overseas to combat ISIL.
During FY 2014, the SOCCENT Commander requested a short-term effort to understand the psychological, ideological, narrative, emotional, cultural, and inspirational (“intangible”) nature of ISIL. As shown below, the SMA1 team really addressed two related questions: “What makes ISIL attractive?” or how has the idea or ideology of ISIL gained purchase with different demographics; and “What makes ISIL successful?” or which of the organization’s characteristics and which of the tactics it has employed account for its push across Syria and Iraq. The effort produced both high-level results and detailed analyses of the factors contributing to each question. The central finding was this: While military action might degrade or defeat factors that make ISIL successful, it cannot overcome what makes ISIL’s message and idea attractive.
In recent weeks, the upsurge of Syrians seeking asylum in European countries has overwhelmed existing capacity. According to UNHCR, as of July 2015 almost 350,000 Syrians have applied for asylum in Europe since the conflict in Syria began, nearly half applying in Germany and Sweden and one third in Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands combined.