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.
(U//FOUO) Maryland Fusion Center Bulletin: Islamic State Propaganda Video Encourages Incendiary Attacks in the Homeland
On 26 July 2020, al-Hayat Media Center, a news outlet of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), released an English-language propaganda video entitled “Incite the Believers,” which encourages ISIS supporters to conduct incendiary attacks in the United States. The narrator acknowledges that ISIS supporters may have difficulty traveling to ISIS-controlled territory overseas and instead encourages them to conduct attacks where they live. The video also encourages ISIS supporters who are unable to obtain firearms or explosives to consider using incendiary attacks as an alternative.
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) 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.
Since its founding in 2012, the National Institute of Justice’s Domestic Radicalization to Terrorism program has sponsored research on how radicalization to terrorism occurs in the United States in order to support prevention and intervention efforts. These projects have taken a variety of approaches to examining the process of radicalization to terrorism, but in spite of this there is substantial overlap in their findings, which collectively provide evidence of the importance of several facilitators of radicalization and the need to take into account how this process unfolds within individuals over time.
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.
assesses the increase in the number of vehicle-ramming attacks since January 2016 indicates Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) messaging efforts are probably resonating with violent extremists and will most likely continue in the near term. FTO-inspired violent extremists will probably continue to plan and engage in vehicle-ramming attacks against Western-based mass gathering and public venues since this tactic often requires minimal training, expertise, and preoperational planning. Since January 2016, eight FTO-inspired vehicle-ramming attacks have occurred in Western countries. OCIA identified three common characteristics among these attacks: targeting of public venues or mass gatherings; use of secondary weapons; and lack of observable indicators immediately before the attack.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Guide: Sunni Violent Extremist Attacks in the US Since 9/11
NCTC assesses that the Sunni violent extremist threat in the US has evolved from one defined by complex, large-scale attacks directed by a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) to mostly self-initiated attacks by homegrown violent extremists using relatively simple methods. Of the 28 Sunni violent extremist attacks in the US since 9/11 only three were directed by an FTO. Most attacks were perpetrated by individuals enabled—through encouragement or operational support—or inspired by ISIS, al-Qa‘ida, and al-Qa‘ida affiliates.
This case study is an examination of behaviors that resulted in a disrupted terrorist attack, revealing a cycle of planning and preparation that could provide indicators for preventing similar attempts. The terrorist attack planning cycle is not a static, linear process but rather could begin in any of the several stages with variances in details, sequence, and timing. An individual’s mobilization to violence often provides observable behavioral indicators such as, pre-attack surveillance, training, and rehearsal. The indicators potentially allow third-party observers and law enforcement to identify individuals moving to violence, circumstances that may allow for disruption of planned attacks. This product is intended to cultivate an awareness of the planning cycle among stakeholders for identification, mitigation, and disruption of attack planning.
Vehicle-ramming attacks are considered unsophisticated, in that a perpetrator could carry out such an attack with minimal planning and training. It is likely that terrorist groups will continue to encourage aspiring attackers to employ unsophisticated tactics such as vehicle-ramming, since these types of attacks minimize the potential for premature detection and could inflict mass fatalities if successful. Furthermore, events that draw large groups of people—and thus present an attractive vehicle ramming target—are usually scheduled and announced in advance, which greatly facilitates attack planning and training activities.
While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government. There is information, primarily from FBI sources, that at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers. The Joint Inquiry’s review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which has yet to be independently verified, indicating that individuals associated with Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups. The FBI and CIA have informed the Joint Inquiry that, since the September 11 attacks, they are treating the Saudi issue seriously, but both still have only a limited understanding of the Saudi Government’s ties to terrorist elements. In their testimony, neither CIA nor FBI witnesses were able to identify definitively the extent of Saudi support for terrorist activity globally or within the United States and the extent to which such support, if it exists, is knowing or inadvertent in nature.
(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.
Several recent incidents underline the possibility that soft targets, including entertainment venues such as bars and restaurants, are increasingly chosen over hard targets that may hold more significance to the victims and the attacking person or group. Using analysis of recent events and data from the START Global Terrorism Database, the BRIC completed the following study to raise awareness regarding the targeting of entertainment venues by violent extremist groups.
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.
(U//FOUO) Boston Regional Intelligence Center Suspicious Activity Behavior & Indicators For Public Sector Partners
This document is intended to highlight several suspicious activity behaviors and indicators that may be indicative of preoperational terrorist activity for business owners and private sector security personnel. This product focuses on behaviors and indicators that would be of interest prior to any major event. This proactive public safety strategy is an ongoing attempt to provide our private sector partners with some information on suspicious activity.
Despite official statistics showing a decrease in the number of arrests related to Salafist-jihadist activity, EU-based security services have thwarted numerous IED-centered plots since 2003. Many of the EU plots involve al Qaeda-networked terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and included plots in Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the United Kingdom (UK). Two recent plots are representative of the current IED threat in the EU: the Sauerland plot in Germany (2007) and the Barcelona plot in Spain (2008).
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.
This document presents an overview of terrorism threats and terrorist methodologies to assist OPSEC managers in evaluating the threat and managing terrorist risks to organizations and personnel. As in other areas of security and intelligence concern, proper application of the OPSEC process in evaluating threat and risk1 helps an organization to make informed decisions on conducting its mission-critical activities without becoming unduly vulnerable.
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//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.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States adopted a preventive approach to combating all forms of terrorist activity. Efforts to combat the financing of terrorism (CFT) are a central pillar of this approach. Cutting off financial support to terrorists and terrorist organizations is essential to disrupting their operations and preventing attacks. To that end, the U.S. government has sought to identify and disrupt ongoing terrorist financing (TF) and to prevent future TF. The law enforcement community, including various components of the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Treasury, along with the intelligence community and the federal functional regulators, applies robust authorities to identify, investigate, and combat specific TF threats, enforce compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and prosecute supporters in order to deter would-be terrorist financiers. The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), which leads financial and regulatory CFT efforts for the U.S. government, employs targeted financial sanctions, formulates systemic safeguards, and seeks to increase financial transparency to make accessing the U.S. financial system more difficult and risky for terrorists and their facilitators. All of these efforts involve extensive international engagement to try to prevent any form of TF, particularly financing that does not necessarily originate in the United States, from accessing the U.S. financial system.