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)
As the threats seem to multiply, people are growing frustrated that the threats continue. Watch NYPD’s John Miller’s update on the investigation on CBS This Morning (March 9, 2017).
The past few months have been busy with JCRC-NY coordinating major training sessions for hundreds of institutions in the NY area. There is a heightened awareness of the potential for attacks and a willingness on the part of organizations to “Step up their Game.”
All of the trainings focused on security/terrorism awareness, building a culture of security within organizations and active shooter responses. Kudos and thanks to our wonderful partners, including: NYPD Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Our common goals are to strengthen the ties between law enforcement and nonprofit organizations and to empower them by giving them to tools and knowledge to respond as well as possible. Here’s some examples of our recent work: Continue Reading
As you know, from September 24 through September 26, 2015, Pope Francis will be visiting New York City. New Yorkers should anticipate traffic disruptions and various street closures. The use of public transportation is highly encouraged during this period. All New Yorkers in the vicinity of the visit’s events will be affected: traffic, client appointments, critical services, and deliveries in the impacted areas . Please share this information, partner organizations, and employees to allow extra travel time, find alternate routes or locations, or reschedule appointments in the area. Employees and residents of the affected areas should be advised to carry identification at all times.
The MTA New York City Bus system is planning significant service changes to bus routes near the locations of papal events in order to accommodate street closures and pedestrian restrictions. Those service changes will be posted at www.mta.info/nyct. Affected customers are encouraged to use subway service if possible; subway managers will be prepared to adjust train operations based on conditions in stations near papal events. Please note that road closures during the papal visit are subject to change at the discretion of the NYPD. Future updates and traffic advisories will be posted here.
Here is a map of street closings from WNYC:
Please click here to view the full list of streetclosures and traffic restrictions.
Planned Road Closures
|Thur, Sep 24||Beginning at approximately midnight the following streets in the vicinity of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 9 p.m.:
The FDR DRIVE (Southbound at 63rd Street and Northbound at South Ferry) will be subject to intermittent closures.
|Fri, Sep 25||Beginning at approximately 3 a.m. the following streets in the vicinity of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be closed to vehicular traffic until 6 a.m.:
Beginning at approximately 6 a.m. the following streets in the vicinity of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be re-opened to vehicular traffic until 10 a.m.:
Beginning at approximately 10 a.m. the following streets in the vicinity of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 9 p.m.:
Beginning at approximately 2 p.m. the following streets in the vicinity of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 9 p.m. (Madison Avenue from 47th Street to 57th Street)
The following streets in the vicinity of the United Nations will continued to be closed for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to vehicular traffic:
The following will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at approximately 5:00 a.m.:
Please note: These areas will reopen each evening after the day’s session.
9-11 Memorial. Beginning at approximately midnight, Liberty Street (from Trinity Place to Greenwich Street) and Cedar Street (from Trinity Place to Greenwich Street) will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 1 p.m.
Beginning at approximately 11 a.m., West Street (North bound on from Battery Place to Murray Street) will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 1 p.m.West Street (South bound on from Chambers Street to Albany Street) will be subject to additional intermittent closures/managed access to vehicular traffic and closed to trucks and other large vehicles.
Beginning at approximately midnight streets in the vicinity of the Our Lady Queen of Angels School (112th Street from 2nd Avenue to 3rd Avenue and the 113th Street Cul-de-sac) will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 6 p.m.Please note: Starting at approximately 3 p.m. trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access 2nd Avenue from 106th Street to 116th Street and 3rd Avenue between 106th Street to 116th Street.
Beginning at approximately midnight the following streets in the vicinity of Central Park will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 7 p.m.:
Madison Square Garden. Beginning at approximately midnight, 31st Street from 7th Avenue to 9th Avenue and 33rd Street from 7th Avenue to 9th Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 11:59 p.m.Beginning at approximately noon, the following streets in the vicinity of Madison Square Garden will have intermittent closures/managed access to vehicular traffic:
Please note: Starting at approximately noon, trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access 7th Avenue from 30th Street to 34th Street or 8th Avenue from 30th Street to 34th Street.
|Sat, Sep 26||The FDR DRIVE will be subject to intermittent closures (Southbound at 63rd Street and Northbound at South Ferry)|
|All 3 days||Papal Nuncio’s Residence. Beginning at approximately 8 a.m. on Thursday, 72nd Street from Madison Ave. to 5th Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic until Saturday, September 26th at approximately 10 a.m.:
Beginning at approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday until Saturday, September 26th at approximately 10 a.m., 71st Street from Madison Ave. to 5th Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic.
Please note: Trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access Madison Ave. from 69th Street to 74th Street while Pope Francis is in residence.
Additional intermittent closures/managed access to vehicular traffic in the vicinity of the Papal Nuncio’s Residence include:
Beginning at approximately 10 p.m. the following streets in the vicinity of the Papal Nuncio’s Residence will be closed to vehicular traffic until approximately 6 a.m.:
Please note: Trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access: • 5th Ave. (from 74th Street to 71st Street) and Madison Ave. (from 69th Street to 74th Street).
Street Closures for UN General Assembly
There may be street closures in the following area of Manhattan during the UN General Assembly session between Friday, September 18 and Saturday, October 3, to be determined by the Police Department. The major meetings fall on Monday and Tuesday, September 28th-29th (Sukkoth). Motorcades taking world leaders around town contribute to the gridlock. Consider using public transportation to get around the area.
For daily closings click here.
The affected locations are:
- Area bounded by East 60th Street on the north, East 34th Street on the south, 1st Avenue on the east, Madison Avenue on the west, All inclusive.
- 34th Street between FDR Drive and 7th Avenue
- 42nd Street between FDR Drive and 7th Avenue
- 50th Street between FDR Drive and 7th Avenue
- 57th Street between FDR Drive and 7th Avenue
- 48th Street and 49th Street between 1st Avenue and FDR Drive Service Road
- FDR Drive Service Road between 48th Street and 49th Street
- 51st Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
- 52nd Street and 53rd Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
- 54th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
- 55th Street between 6th Avenue and Madison Avenue
- 56th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
- 6th Avenue between 53rd Street and 55th Street