A facilitated brainstorming session was convened to identify and examine the most common misconceptions about conventional Homeland plotting. These misconceptions stemmed from inquiries received from Federal, state, local, tribal, and private-sector consumers and from articles published by outside experts and in the media. Analysts identified the following six misconceptions as the most common and compared them with current analytic lines.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is warning law enforcement and first responders that urban exploration, an activity that involves trying to gain access to restricted or abandoned man-made structures, can provide useful information for terrorists conducting surveillance of a potential target. Also known as “building hacking”, urban exploration has been around in its modern form for decades, tracing some its more recent history to post-war exploration of the Parisian catacombs and members of MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club Signals and Power Subcommittee, who organized explorations of steam tunnels and rooftops around campus in the late 1950s.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center: Urban Exploration Offers Insight on Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
Urban Explorers (UE)—hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas—frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets. Advanced navigation and mapping technologies, including three dimensional modeling and geo-tagging, could aid terrorists in pinpointing locations in dense urban environments. Any suspicious UE activity should be reported to the nearest State and Major Area Fusion Center and to the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Special Report: IED Targeting of First Response Personnel
Although most terrorist IED attacks outside war zones target civilians or symbols of authority and usually involve a single device, some are designed specifically to target emergency response personnel. The most common tactics involve using secondary or tertiary devices in tiered or sequential attacks intended to kill or maim response personnel after they arrive on the scene of an initial IED incident.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Advisory: Homegrown Violent Extremists Targeting Law-Enforcement Officers
Some homegrown violent extremists (HVE) have targeted US law-enforcement entities and have used publicly available information to counter these entities’ CT tactics and security practices. Law-enforcement entities are being identified by these extremists as both strategic targets and targets of opportunity, mainly because a core element of HVE subculture perceives that persecution by US law enforcement reflects the West’s inherent aggression toward Islam, which reinforces the violent opposition by HVEs to law enforcement.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Mobilizing Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) Behavioral Indicators
A US Government interagency study of homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) revealed four major mobilizing patterns shared by a majority of HVE cases between 2008 and 2010, providing officials with an emerging picture of distinct behaviors often associated with an individual mobilizing for violence. These four patterns—links to known extremists, ideological commitment to extremism, international travel, and pursuit of weapons and associated training—repeatedly appeared in the case studies, reinforcing initial assessments of potential trends. Awareness of the patterns can help combat the recent rise in these cases while providing a data-driven tool for assessing potential changes in the HVE threat to the Homeland.
Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center, U.S. Northern Command
This Joint Special Event Threat Assessment (JSETA) addresses potential threats to the National Football League (NFL)USPER Super Bowl XLV, which will be played on 6 February 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It focuses on potential threats to the game—and to various NFL-sanctioned events scheduled for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex-area during the 12 days prior to the game—from international and domestic terrorists, cyber actors, criminals, and foreign intelligence services.
The attempted bombing in Times Square on 1 May 2010 highlights the need to identify Homegrown Violent Extremists before they carry out a terrorist act. The ability of the bomber to operate under the radar demonstrates the difficulties associated with identifying terrorist activity and reinforces the need for law enforcement, at all levels, to be vigilant and identify individuals who are planning violence or other illegal activities in support of terrorism.
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) is the US Government’s (USG) central repository of information on international terrorist identities as established by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. TIDE supports the USG’s various terrorist screening systems or “watchlists” and the US Intelligence Community’s overall counterterrorism mission. The Terrorist Identities Group (TIG), located in the National Counterterrorism Center’s Information Sharing & Knowledge Development Directorate (ISKD), is responsible for building and maintaining TIDE.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established in 2004 to ensure that information from any source about potential terrorist acts against the U.S. could be made available to analysts and that appropriate responses could be planned. Investigations of the 9/11 attacks had demonstrated that information possessed by different agencies had not been shared and thus that disparate indications of the looming threat had not been connected and warning had not been provided. As a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the NCTC is composed of analysts with backgrounds in many government agencies and has access to various agency databases.
Elements of the U. S. government hosted an interdisciplinary, unclassified workshop to better understand the potential threat from independently acting terrorists with biological expertise. Such lone-actor terrorists have the potential to carry out high-impact biological attacks while generating few signatures, making detection or disruption of their efforts challenging. The one-day workshop explored the possible motivations, intents, and objectives of lone-actor terrorists who might consider conducting biological attacks; examined scientific infrastructure vulnerabilities that these individuals could exploit; and identified strategies to mitigate this potential threat.