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)
Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop
March 19, 2020
26th Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278
Given today’s ever-changing threat environment, preparing for and training employees to cope with workplace violence should be a key piece of an organization’s incident response planning.
A Unique Training Opportunity
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is hosting a one-day security workshop to enhance awareness of, and response to, an active shooter event:
- Educating participants on the history of active shooter events.
- Describing common behavior, conditions, and situations associated with active shooters.
- Fostering communication between critical infrastructure owners and operators and local emergency response teams. This course includes discussions of interoperability, communications protocols, and best practices for planning, preparedness, and response.
Building Emergency Planning Capabilities
The event will also describe how to incorporate key elements of successful incident management into planning efforts including:
- Communication and incident planning for employees
- Emergency action plan development
- Recognizing behavioral indicators
- Coordinating with first responders.
Understanding Liability and Risk Exposure
The workshop focuses on providing awareness training that supports the development of emergency action planning capabilities. These capabilities may better position private sector organizations in receiving important legal liability protections from the DHS Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the private sector became very concerned about the risk of liability they would face in the event that their product, service, or layered security program (e.g., Technology) was impacted by an act of terrorism. The SAFETY Act seeks to mitigate those risks by encouraging the wide-spread deployment of effective anti-terrorism technologies by providing legal protections that cap or dismiss liability in the event of an act of terrorism.
To learn more about the SAFETY Act and the types of products, services, and layered security programs that have received protections, visit www.safetyact.gov.
Who Should Participate?
This event is open to:
- Corporate and facility security professionals from the private and public sectors
- Supervisory first responders
- Human resource managers
- Community response officials
- Homeland security representatives
8:00 A.M. Registration Begins
8:30 A.M. Opening Remarks and Welcome; Modules 1-3 (Recognition, Prevention, Protection)
12:00 P.M. Lunch
1:00 P.M. Modules 4-6 (Mitigation, Response, Recovery)
4:00 P.M. Closing Remarks
Notes: A government-issued ID (license) will be required for entry.
- Registration for this event is free; please click here to register or copy/paste the following address in your browser: https://www.govevents.com/details/36324/dhs-active-shooter-preparedness-workshop–new-york-ny/.
- Registration closes 03/16/2020 at 12:00 pm (EDT).
- Limited seating is available; 2 slots per organization. Additional attendees will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
- Note: If your plans change, please notify us so we can accommodate others on the waiting list.
Kudos to Governor Andrew Cuomo on his milestone ‘NO HATE IN OUR STATE’ Conference and his inspirational message.
JCRC-NY Executive Vice President and CEO, Rabbi Michael Miller was honored to open the conference with an invocation and noted, “We [are] beset by a plague of dreadful violence, generated by senseless hatred of “the other.” And all [at this conference] are “the other.” . . . [As Governor Cuomo] has led with his raised voice . . . decrying the hatred, [so too] our voices need be raised.”
Governor Cuomo said that it was not enough for government to offer “thoughts and prayers” in the aftermath of horrible, violent hate crimes. Following his own injunction that government must not just talk, but act, he proposed as part of his FY 2021 Executive Budget an additional $25 million in security grant funding for organizations vulnerable to hate crimes. The Governor also proposed expanding eligibility for these security grants to include houses of worship.
“We are focused on protecting our institutions every day and we know that houses of worship are among the most vulnerable,” said David Pollock, JCRC-NY Associate Executive Director and Chair of the new Community Security Initiative (a joint venture of UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY). We appreciate the Governor’s genuine concern, and with the enactment of the New York State 2020-2021 budget, millions of congregants will be protected. “We are especially pleased that day camps will now be eligible to apply without matching funds (see the new Request for Application).”
NY nonpublic K-12 schools, community centers, camps and museums should click to JCRC-NY’s dedicated webpage (www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants) for more information on how to apply for grant funding to protect at-risk institutions.
Announcing New York State Security Grant opportunities for eligible nonpublic schools, nonprofit day care centers, nonprofit community centers, nonprofit cultural museums, and nonprofit residential and day camps.
Want to learn more about the application process?
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) and UJA-Federation of New York and invite you to an online training:
Tuesday, January 14th from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
What will the training cover?
Prequalification, navigating the application process, security bridge loans, and more. Organizations that participate may be eligible to access additional assistance in the grant application process. To register and receive instructions for participation, please click here.
Please find further information on the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grant below.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is committed to ensuring the safety and equal treatment of all New Yorkers and as such has continued support of the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program. This program is designed to boost safety and security at New York’s nonprofit organizations at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission. In support of this effort, $45 million in grant funding is being made available on a statewide basis and will be administered by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES).
The NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is releasing the Request for Applications (RFAs) to solicit proposals to support projects under the SFY2019-2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program (SCAHC Program) and the SFY2019-2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program with Local Matching Funds (SCAHC Match Program).
- SFY2019-2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Program (SCAHC) – $25 million has been made available through this competitive grant program to eligible nonpublic nonprofit schools, nonprofit day care centers, nonprofit community centers, nonprofit cultural museums and nonprofit residential camps which demonstrate a risk of a hate crime due to their ideology, beliefs or mission. Applications will be accepted for up to $50,000 per facility. Eligible organizations may submit up to five applications for a maximum total request of $250,000.
- SFY2019-2020 Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes with Local Matching Funds (SCAHC Match Program). $20 million in grant funding has been made available through this competitive grant program to eligible nonpublic nonprofit schools, and nonprofit day camps which demonstrate a risk of a hate crime due to their ideology, beliefs or mission. Applications will be accepted for up to $50,000 per facility (with a local cost match per application). Eligible organizations may submit up to five applications for a maximum total request of $250,000 (including local cost match).
Nonprofit organizations that are applying for these funding opportunities must be prequalified in the NYS Grants Gateway prior to application submission.
To learn more about prequalification, go to the Grants Management website.
The Request for Applications (RFA) and other required documents for both of these grant programs can be found here.
The due date for applications for both programs is February 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.
Any applications and/or supporting documentation received after the due date and time will not be considered.
SUMMARY OF TERRORISM THREAT TO THE U.S. HOMELAND
This Bulletin will expire on or before January 18, 2020 at 1:00 PM EST
- The United States designated Iran a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” in 1984 and since then, Iran has actively engaged in or directed an array of violent and deadly acts against the United States and its citizens globally. The United States designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 15, 2019 for its direct involvement in terrorist plotting.
- On January 2, 2020, the United States carried out a lethal strike in Iraq killing Iranian IRGC-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani while Soleimani was in Iraq.
- Iranian leadership and several affiliated violent extremist organizations publicly stated they intend to retaliate against the United States.
- At this time we have no information indicating a specific, credible threat to the Homeland. Iran and its partners, such as Hizballah, have demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct operations in the United States.
- Previous homeland-based plots have included, among other things, scouting and planning against infrastructure targets and cyber enabled attacks against a range of U.S.-based targets.
- Iran maintains a robust cyber program and can execute cyber attacks against the United States. Iran is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.
- Iran likely views terrorist activities as an option to deter or retaliate against its perceived adversaries. In many instances, Iran has targeted United States interests through its partners such as Hizballah.
- Homegrown Violent Extremists could capitalize on the heightened tensions to launch individual attacks.
- An attack in the homeland may come with little or no warning.
- The Department of Homeland Security is working closely with our federal, state, local, and private sector partners to detect and defend against threats to the Homeland, and will enhance security measures as necessary.
See the full document here.