COVID Reopening and Reentry

Category Archive: Nonprofit Security

Bomb threats/hoaxes: are you ready?

As reported in the JTA Daily Briefing, 19 Jewish organizations (mostly JCC’s) received an email threat yesterday (Sunday) morning. The threat alleged that the writer was concerned about an immigration issue and threatened to remotely detonate bombs if a certain demand was not met. The Community Security Initiative (a joint program of UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY) immediately communicated with our local and federal partners. The consensus was that the threat was not credible.

Do you have a threat procedure? Do you regularly review your procedures and/or drill? Should we be worried?

At this time the experts conclude that incidents referencing threats against schools, Jewish facilities and businesses are not likely t0 represent a credible terrorist threat for two reasons:

  1. terrorists’ rarely provide operational insight into their planning, and
  2. the fact that nearly all hoaxes in the United States are conducted by criminal actors or those instigating a nuisance prank.

Consider yesterday’s incidents to be a drill

Now is a good time to review your threat protocols. Of course you call 911, but are the right people authorized to do so. Who else needs to be notified? Should you evacuate? Who makes the decision? Learn more about bomb threats and more on our dedicated webpage: www.jcrcny.org/bomb

Evacuations can be tricky. Review our post, To evacuate or not to evacuate? That is the question. Triggering an evacuation could be an effective part of an active threat plan, with an attacker waiting outside to shoot, stab, bomb or ram those fleeing the building.

Bottom line. Consider identifying a relatively safe haven within your building (e.g., a gym or auditorium). Create a protocol to ensure that the safe haven in inspected every day to confirm that there are no suspicious objects present. If a threat is delivered, the safe haven can be quickly checked and the building occupants can temporarily be moved into that room. After the police arrive, they should check the immediate surroundings for possible threats before the people are allowed to exit.

Of course, there’s an old Army saying (sometimes attributed to Gen. Eisenhower) that, “Plans are worthless, but planning is essential.” May we never need to implement those plans.

 

Federal and NY State security grants updates

Eligible nonprofits can now apply for both state and federal grants to upgrade their security. Some requirements apply to both sets of grants.

  1. All not-for-profit organizations must be prequalified in order to do business with New York State and to apply for grants. See the options below, under the appropriate grant.
  2. All New York State applicants must submit their grants through the E-Grants system. If you are already registered, use your existing username and password. If you need to register download the E-Grants Registration Form.
  3. Not-for-Profit (NFP) organizations receiving an award greater than $50,000 are required to complete a Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire.  This form is available at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/vendrep/forms_vendor.htm .  Vendors can also file the Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire online through the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) New York State VendRep System.  To enroll and use the OSC NYS VendRep system, instructions are available at http://www.osc.state.ny.us/vendrep/index.htm

For New York State assistance contact DHSES at 1-866-837-9133 or email them at Grant.Info@dhses.ny.gov. To submit a question to us email to security.requests@jcrcny.org. Click on the buttons below for the necessary forms and the most up-to-date information. Click to the Community Security Initiative (a joint program of UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY) tutorials below for more information and guidance.

UASI

Federal Grant

Hate Crime

New York State Grant

In New York, federal Request for Applications due on March 18, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. Any at-risk nonprofit is eligible to apply for grants up to $100,000. Note the NSGP-UA is for organizations within a designated Urban Area (in NY:  NYC, Long Island and Westchester). Outside the NY Urban Area apply for the NSGP-S grant.

Click on the button above for the official downloads. Here are some additional helpful presentations and sources:

Some changes from last year.

New York State has two possible grants (check the eligibility criteria) and the due date for both Request for Applications is March 16, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. Organizations eligible to apply may request up to $50,000 per site. 

Click on the button above for the official downloads. Here are some additional helpful presentations and sources:

Note: State grant applicants may prequalify using a “streamlined” process found at https://grantsmanagement.ny.gov/securing-communities . Those prequalifying using the traditional prequalification process are prequalified for both grants.

Eligibility

 For the $25 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grant, you must be:

  • a §501(c)(3) organization (see more details in the RFA); AND at least one of the following:
  • a nonprofit, nonpublic school; or
  • a nonprofit day care center; or
  • a nonprofit cultural museum, which is a building or site for the exhibition or promotion of arts and culture of a particular region or people; or
  • a nonprofit residential camp, which is occupied on an overnight basis by persons under eighteen years of age; or
  • a nonprofit community center (The best definition that we’ve seen is from FEMA, “A building, including attached structures and grounds, that is established and primarily used as a gathering place for a variety of social, educational enrichment, and community service activities consistent with the nonprofit’s IRS status.” (FEMA DAP9521.1) DHSES urges applicants that consider themselves to be “community centers” to do their best to explain why they are eligible.).

For the $20 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes for Nonpublic Schools and Day Camps grant, you must be:

To be considered for funding, eligible organizations must:

  • Have received a Recognition of Exempt Status Determination letter from the IRS pursuant to 26 USC §501(c)(3). Alternatively, the applicant may self-certify by providing a letter affirming that the organization qualifies as a §501(c)(3) organization and is exempt from tax pursuant to 26 USC §501(a); the organization must maintain tax exempt status throughout the life of the grant. If the organization’s tax-exempt status is jeopardized or placed into question at any point during the life of the grant, the organization must notify DHSES within fifteen (15) days;

AND

  • Meet at least one of the following:
    • are a nonprofit nonpublic school; or
    • are a nonprofit day camp, which is occupied on a scheduled basis at any time between June 1st and September 15th by children under sixteen years of age for a period of less than twenty-four hours;

AND

  • Be at risk of a hate crime due to ideology, beliefs, or mission as described by the applying organization under this RFA;

AND

  • Be registered, have recently applied for registration and such application remains pending, or be exempt from registering with the NYS Attorney General’s Office, Charities Bureau;

AND

  • Be prequalified, through New York State Grants Management at https://grantsmanagement.ny.gov/securing-communities prior to application submission.

 

Security grants updates | Deadline extended

February 14, 2020

New York State Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes

The NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services moved the deadline for the SFY2019/2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program (SCAHC Program) and the SFY2019/2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program for Nonpublic Schools and Day Camps (SCAHC for Nonpublic Schools and Day Camps). The deadline for applications under both RFAs is March 16, 2020 at 5:00pm.

Important Resources for Application

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Nonprofit Security Grants Program

Rumors fly that the federal guidance to the grant will be released this afternoon. Another rumor is that the states will have to submit their application packages within 60 days (for NY applicants, sometime before Passover?). Meanwhile, here are some resources to help you to get started,

 

 

Recent Propaganda Releases by ISIS and Al-Qa’ida Promote Intensified Attacks by Supporters in the West

This assessment from NYPD has information that can be used to support both the federal and New York State grant applications. We highlighted issues concerning the Jewish community.


Open Source Assessment/February 10, 2020

Two recent extremist propaganda releases disseminated by ISIS’s al-Furqan Media and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Al-Malahem Media called on Salafi-jihadist supporters to intensify attacks as part of a retaliatory campaign of violence against the West, which may resonate with homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) based in the U.S. Both media campaigns referenced a broad variety of tactics, with ISIS’s statement promoting the use of conventional and chemical weapons, and AQAP’s message promoting simple, low-tech methods, as well as cyberwarfare campaigns.

  • While both propaganda statements called for an escalation in attack efforts, ISIS’s propaganda release notably emphasized a “new phase” geared specifically towards targeting Israeli and Jewish interests. ISIS previously referenced chemical weapons tactics in numerous propaganda graphics, demonstrating the group’s persistent support and interest in this attack method.  While the NYPD is not aware of any credible, active, or specific threats at this time, this statement, coupled with an already heightened threat environment, may serve as a catalyst for increased violence against Jewish communities.
  • Additionally, AQAP’s latest propaganda release may potentially have a stronger resonance with al-Qa’ida-aligned HVEs in the West following the recently confirmed death of Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP, who was killed in a targeted U.S. counterterrorism operation in Yemen.
  • On January 27, 2020, ISIS’s official media apparatus published a 37-minute Arabic-language audio statement attributed to its new spokesperson, Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi, marking his second speech since the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and spokesperson Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir in separate U.S. counterterrorism operations. While much of the statement—titled “God Destroyed Them and a Similar Fate Awaits the Disbelievers”—revisited ISIS’s narrative of survivability and endurance despite strategic setbacks, al-Qurayshi notably declared war on Israel, and called for ISIS supporters to broadly intensify their attack efforts worldwide.
  •  Throughout the speech, al-Qurayshi claimed that U.S. narratives about ISIS’s defeat in the Middle East are false and that the U.S. has historically been unable to defeat its adversaries, specifically referring to the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. He asserted that ISIS will persist despite al-Baghdadi’s death. The statement appears to have been recorded in recent weeks, as it also referenced the death of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Major General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in early January 2020.
  • After congratulating ISIS militants for waging a retaliatory campaign of violence in response to the deaths of al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir, al-Qurayshi encouraged supporters to continue the revenge efforts by increasing the frequency of attacks. This specific statement could potentially resonate with lone offenders as a call to arms from core ISIS leadership.
  • Al-Qurayshi announced the beginning of a new stage for ISIS aimed at reclaiming Jerusalem. He specifically urged ISIS affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula and Syria to turn Israeli “settlements and markets into a proving ground for your rockets and chemical weapons.” He also ordered Muslims to thwart the U.S. peace plan referred to as the “Deal of the Century,” and implored Palestinians and Muslims worldwide to target Jews. While previous ISIS messaging also emphasized the targeting of Jewish and Israeli interests in an effort to inspire attacks by established ISIS affiliates and lone offender supporters, the emphasis on these targets in this audio message likely coincides with the latest proposed U.S. peace plan for the Middle East.
  • On February 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Qasim al-Rimi, the emir of AQAP and potential heir to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed in a U.S. military counterterrorism operation. Al-Rimi was previously featured in a propaganda video disseminated by AQAP on February 2 that claimed responsibility for the December 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, praised global al-Qa’ida-affiliated operations, and emphasized the importance of continued retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests. Given al-Rimi’s death, his latest message urging lone offender attacks against the U.S. may also catalyze HVEs to conduct retaliatory attacks.
  • AQAP’s propaganda video featured Qasim al-Rimi, often pairing his image with other al-Qa’ida ideologues. He declared that AQAP was responsible for the December 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola which was conducted by Saudi aviation student Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, who he claimed was a sleeper agent for AQAP. Similar to the retaliatory narrative in past AQAP propaganda messages, he stated that the shooting was in revenge for crimes committed by the U.S. across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Additionally, on February 4, the al-Qa’ida-affiliated al-Shabaab echoed this narrative by congratulating AQAP for its role in the Pensacola attack and encouraged continued lone offender operations in the West.
  • Al-Rimi connected the Pensacola shooting to other al-Qa’ida-affiliated operations, stating that it was part of a series of global attacks. He compared al-Shamrani to the group’s other perceived “heroes,” such as Nidal Malik Hassan, the November 2019 Fort Hood shooter, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the brothers who orchestrated the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, in a likely attempt to encourage similar operations by HVEs in the West.
  • Most significantly, al-Rimi explicitly called for lone offender attacks in the U.S and told supporters to make sure their “chief concern” is “America.” He urged students, journalists, doctors, engineers, merchants, workers, Arab and non-Arabs to use low-tech, simple tactics, including vehicle ramming, firearms, and explosives. He also encourages viewers to consult AQAP’s Inspire magazine for tactical guidance.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NEW YORK CITY

There is currently no direct, credible or specific threat to New York City following these recent propaganda releases by ISIS and AQAP media entities; however, ISIS’s calls for attacks against Jewish communities highlights the importance of vigilance for suspicious activity indicators at similar locations, houses of worship, and Jewish faith community gatherings throughout the five boroughs. In recent months, authorities have disrupted numerous plots by malicious actors from across the violent extremist ideological spectrum who espoused anti-Semitic views and targeted the Jewish community.

Security personnel are advised to be on alert for suspicious behavior that could indicate pre-operational surveillance for an attack. Such behavior could include individuals taking photographs of security procedures in place, and asking probing questions of security/law enforcement officers stationed outside such locations.

Information sharing and prompt reporting of suspicious behavior indicators between the public, private-sector security personnel, faith community leaders, and law enforcement authorities remains vital to the deterrence, detection, and disruption of terrorist activity and the prevention of attacks.

If You See Something, Say Something – 1-888-NYC-SAFE (1-888-692-7233)

New concerns from ISIS-inspired lone wolves

According to some analysts, the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has the potential for violent reactions by United States-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs). While there is no specific threat to the Jewish community or to the New York area, JCRC-NY recommends that Jewish institutions maintain heightened vigilance.

In a recent op-ed in the NY Daily News (Why ISIS remains far from finished: A warning from two leading counterterrorism officials), Ray Kelly and Mitch Silber observed, “The ISIS threat to the U.S. early on was mainly based on its ability, through cutting-edge use of social media, to radicalize and mobilize Americans to either want to join ISIS as a foreign fighter (with the latent threat to return to attack the U.S.) or to plot attacks at home on their own.”

This is a good time to review your facility’s security protocols to ensure that they reflect the current need for heightened vigilance. We suggest that you download JCCA’s Security Readiness:A Framework for Security at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), YM and YWHAs, and Camps. The publication is a valuable tool for all kinds of organizations and the chapter on a “Security Escalation Plan” on pp. 42ff. features six indicators that should cause you to consider escalating security and the included checklist is a helpful template to build an effective response.

Keep safe.