Category Archives: TERRORISM

Attack on German Christmas Market underscores Threat to Mass Gatherings

Germany: Vehicular Assault at Christmas Market Underscores Threat to Mass Gatherings and Open-Access Venues

Page Count: 4 pages
Date: December 21, 2016
Restriction: For Official Use Only
Originating Organization: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Intelligence and Analysis
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(U) A 25-ton commercial truck transporting steel beams from Poland to Germany plowed into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin at about 2000 local time on 19 December, killing at least 12 people and injuring 48 others, several critically, according to media reporting citing public security officials involved in the investigation. The truck was reportedly traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour when it rammed the Christmas market stands. Police estimate the vehicle traveled 80 yards into the Christmas market before coming to a halt.

(U) German authorities are calling the attack a terrorist incident, with the attacker still at large. German authorities are warning that it is unclear if the attacker was a lone offender, acted as part of a cell, or if he received any sort of direction by a FTO, and expressed concern that additional attacks are possible. An individual who was initially detained on 19 December was released on 20 December, and is no longer considered a suspect, according to German police. The truck may have been stolen or hijacked with the original driver overpowered or murdered. The original driver, found dead in the truck cab, appears to have died from stabbing and shooting wounds, according to media reporting citing law enforcement officials. The truck tracking location system indicated repeated engine stalls in the time leading up to the attack, leading the owner of the vehicle to speculate this was unlikely if a veteran driver was operating the truck, unless there was some sort of mechanical trouble. In response to the incident, German authorities, as part of their heightened security posture, will place concrete barriers around access points at Christmas markets across Germany.

(U//FOUO) Vehicle Ramming Featured in Recent Terrorist Messaging

(U//FOUO) I&A assesses that the 19 December likely terrorist attack at one of the largest Christmas markets in Berlin highlights terrorists’ continued use of simple tactics and is consistent with recent calls by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for attacks in the West using “all available means.” In an early December audio statement, ISIL spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir called for attacks in “their homes, markets, street gatherings and anywhere they do not think of.” Vehicle ramming has been featured in recent violent extremist publications and messaging—including in ISIL’s al Rumiyah magazine and al-Qaʻida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Inspire magazine—especially since the mid-July vehicle ramming attack in Nice, France. The early-November third issue of Rumiyah highlighted applicable targets for vehicle ramming attacks such as “large outdoor conventions and celebrations, pedestrian-congested streets, outdoor markets, festivals, parades, and political rallies.” The most recent Homeland attack featuring this tactic occurred at Ohio State University in Columbus on 28 November, where Abdul Razak Ali Artan ran over pedestrians and then continued the attack with an edged weapon after the vehicle came to a stop.

(U//FOUO) On 20 December, ISIL’s A’maq News Agency called the attacker “an Islamic State soldier” consistent with previous instances of quickly posting claims of credit for operations. While the attack bears the hallmarks of ISIL’s tactics and targets, we have not been able to determine a definitive link to the group at this time.

(U//FOUO) I&A has no information indicating a specific or credible threat against individuals, locations or events in the Homeland, but several recent plots and attacks in the United States and overseas involving shopping malls, mass transit, and mass gatherings, including sporting events, have shown that homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) and terrorist groups are interested in attacking these types of targets. I&A assesses that commercial facilities—such as festivals, concerts, outdoor events, and other mass gatherings—remain a potential target for terrorists or HVEs, as they often pursue simple, achievable attacks with an emphasis on economic impact and mass casualties. The most likely tactics in a hypothetical terrorist attack against such events likely would involve edged weapons, small arms, vehicular assaults, and possibly improvised explosive devices. The 19 December events underscore the difficulties the private sector and law enforcement face in securing venues that are pedestrian-friendly, particularly in light of the large number of such aereas.


Virginia Police Domestic Terrorism and Extremist Groups Presentation


Domestic Terrorism and Extremist Groups

Page Count: 41 pages
Date: 2016
Restriction: Law Enforcement Sensitive
Originating Organization: Unknown
File Type: pdf
File Size: 17,464,838 bytes
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Cash to Chaos: Dismantling ISIS’ Financial Infrastructure

Cash to Chaos: Dismantling ISIS’ Financial Infrastructure

Page Count: 34 pages
Date: October 2016
Restriction: None
Originating Organization: House Homeland Security Committee
File Type: pdf
File Size: 3,180,713 bytes
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Despite battlefield losses, ISIS continues to operate its own terrorist pseudostate and claims a growing global footprint. At least 34 radical Islamist groups have pledged their allegiance to ISIS. As of this printing, the organization has managed to expand its presence to dozens of countries and territories—in addition to recruiting tens of thousands of fighters from over 120 nations. Most alarmingly, ISIS is driving an unprecedented surge of terror plots against the West and poses a persistent and grave threat to the U.S. homeland.

Their explosive growth stems in part from its ability to control territory and generate massive revenue flows from diverse sources. ISIS is unique in comparison to other terror groups in that it runs a state-like infrastructure designed to raise revenue and support government functions, such as providing social welfare services and waging war. While the United States has made progress in blunting the group’s momentum in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has proved to be a flexible and determined enemy that will regenerate and spread unless its revenue streams are cut off decisively.

Given the severity of the threat, the House Homeland Security Committee launched a review to examine ISIS’ financial infrastructure and U.S. Government’s efforts to dismantle it. The Committee’s Majority Staff reviewed the group’s revenue streams, examined U.S. Government activities to counter its finances, and developed findings and recommendations related to the issue.

Results of the Committee’s Review

This report is divided into two primary sections. First, it outlines the pillars of ISIS’ financial infrastructure. Second, it makes 14 key findings and provides accompanying recommendations. Overall, the Committee finds that:

• The U.S. Government lacks a national strategy to counter ISIS and similar terror groups’ fundraising tactics.

• Despite recent setbacks, ISIS’ rapid global expansion and its diverse revenue sources continue to strain the U.S. Government’s ability to disrupt the group’s financial flows.

• The Obama Administration has weakened America’s no-negotiation stance toward terrorist groups who kidnap U.S. persons, and it has failed to take meaningful action to deter foreign governments from making ransom payments to ISIS and other terror groups.

• The U.S. Government lacks clarity about the extent to which terrorist groups like ISIS are using online fundraising platforms to generate income.

• The U.S. Government has largely failed to develop a comprehensive government-wide approach to help foreign partners build the capacity to combat terror financing.

• Efforts by foreign partners to crack down on ISIS’s cross-border smuggling and facilitation networks have so far been inadequate.

• Too few countries have effective financial intelligence units to connect the dots and disrupt terrorist transactions.

• ISIS has been able to withstand targeted sanctions because few countries enforce them.

• Many foreign countries rely on a patchwork system to share expertise and prosecute terror-related financial crimes, increasing the odds that terror financiers will slip through the cracks.

• Domestic and international law enforcement agencies have not put high-enough priority on tracking black market sales of cultural artifacts and antiquities, which have become a significant source of terrorist revenue.

• The U.S. Government does not have standardized internal controls in place across federal departments and agencies to prevent terrorists from using charities, nongovernmental organizations, non-profits, and humanitarian groups to raise and move money covertly.

• Gaping weaknesses in reporting and oversight standards for hawala transactions hamper efforts to identify ISIS financiers and hold financial institutions accountable.

• ISIS has been able to adapt to battlefield setbacks and generate new sources of revenue to support the group’s mission.

• ISIS continues to receive financial assistance from supporters in permissive Gulf State countries.

Revealed – Terror Monitor shows Terrorists’ pics uncensored

Pics Of Suicide Bombers Abu Muhammed al-Maslawi & Abu Ghayth Al-Iraqi Who Attacks At Dibs Power Plant In .

Counter-Da’esh Influence Operations Cognitive Space Narrative Simulation Insights

Counter-Da’esh Influence Operations Cognitive Space Narrative Simulation Insights

Page Count: 69 pages
Date: May 2016
Restriction: None
Originating Organization: Joint Staff J39
File Type: pdf
File Size: 3,665,757 bytes
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When planning to deal with any adversary or potential adversaries, it is essential to understand who they are, how they function, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and why they oppose us. Events over the course of the last year and a half highlight the importance of those factors as they relate to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh). One of Da’esh’s obvious strengths is its ability to propagate tailored messages that resonate with its audiences. If the US Government and our allies are to counter Da’esh effectively, we must attack this center of gravity.

The Joint Staff J-39 Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) branch has been evaluating options in “Cognitive Space” to conduct Information Operations to disrupt Da’esh’s ability to command and control forces, neutralize its ability to maintain or increase moral, political, and financial support as well as recruit foreign fighters. This SMA effort continues to identify methods to psychologically isolate Da’esh leaders from one another and their respective constituencies inside and outside of the organization. Furthermore, this SMA effort has been assessing the value of “integrated neuro-cognitive-narrative maneuver” approaches to develop messages and actions that are more likely to have intended effects and less likely to have undesirable unintended or collateral effects, as well as to evaluate message delivery methods more effectively and efficiently by developing campaigns that achieve undercutting effects.

The cornerstone of the effort was the execution of a simulation facilitated by the University of Maryland ICONS team, which sought to

a. support the Psychological Operations (PSYOP) community in meeting training requirements in ways that reinforce the PSYOP process and enhance counter-Da’esh messaging.

b. support the PSYOP community in integrating neuro-cognitive and social science concepts to refine counter-Da’esh message content and increase the effectiveness of the Information Operations (IO) campaign.

c. assist the PSYOP community with understanding the operational environment (OE) and the human networks operating in the OE: friendly, threat, and neutral. Possible examples include providing a (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure) PMESII-framed OE analysis and center of gravity analysis.

This white paper is a compilation of the key findings from the simulation.


Homegrown Terrorists Increasingly Prioritizing Civilian Targets

A graph showing

A chart from the August 2016 bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) shows the increasing number of plots focusing on civilian targets.

A joint intelligence bulletin issued in late August by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) assesses that homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are “increasingly favoring civilian targets” as part of a wider “variety of targeting choices.”  Previous assessments have found that HVEs are most likely to prioritize attacks on “law enforcement personnel, military members, and US Government-associated targets.”  However, a recent shift towards civilian targets has likely been driven by the accessibility of “soft targets” that are often less secure than government facilities and provide greater opportunities for conducting mass casualty attacks.

Over the last year, seventy-seven percent of the “thirteen HVE attacks and disruptions . . . focused on civilian targets, in contrast to eleven percent of the eighteen HVE attacks and disruptions in the first seven months of 2015.”  Three separate HVE plots in 2016 targeted religious institutions, the “first such cases since a 2009 plot against a New York-based synagogue” according to the bulletin.  Since 2015, HVEs have “plotted against or attacked restaurants, a nightclub, a concert, a public ceremony, a place of employment, and a college classroom, demonstrating the variety of targeting choices.”  The bulletin was issued prior to the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey which also targeted civilian locations including a train station, charity race, and numerous public streets.

The bulletin states that a combination of factors ranging from “perceived lower levels of security” as well as “violent extremist messaging glorifying recent attacks on civilians” have motivated this shift in tactics.  The bulletin also highlights a newer trend which has led HVEs to select “familiar targets of personal significance to simplify plotting,” often capitalizing on preexisting grievances or a desire for revenge.  This is particularly relevant to cases such as the December 2015 attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, during which Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed fourteen people at a training event and Christmas Party hosted by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.  Farook, who worked for the county as a health inspector, had been attending the event earlier in the day prior to conducting the attack.  In another example cited in the bulletin, an eighteen-year-old freshman at the University of California at Merced named Faisal Mohammad stabbed a classmate and three other individuals at the college before being shot by a campus police officer.  The FBI later stated that Mohammad had been viewing extremist material online and they believe the attack was inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

To help prevent HVE attacks, the bulletin recommends that state and local authorities be vigilant and “report suspicious activities related to potential mobilization to violence in the Homeland by US-based individuals inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.”

Revealed – U.S. Army Cultural Assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Cultural Assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Page Count: 74 pages
Date: May 31, 2016
Restriction: None
Originating Organization: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC G-20
File Type: pdf
File Size: 7,113,430 bytes
File Hash (SHA-256):05053BE458B21A87EE8BC5FD889B36BEF89A494EF0681D027579068E49DB86E5

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What follows is an assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from a socio-cultural perspective. We have employed a modified PMESII-PT framework for analysis (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information, Physical Terrain, Time). We have modified PMESII-PT in three ways to emphasize the socio-cultural aspect of this analysis. First, we have expanded the concept of Military to cover all coercive forces in the area of interest. The expanded category includes law enforcement, pro and anti-government paramilitaries, militias, external forces, etc. Second, we added Population and Culture as separate categories. Arguably, these categories could be covered in PMESII-PT under Society, but we saw them as sufficiently important to merit separate chapters. Third, we have expanded the concept of Information, which we have titled Communications, to account for both how information is communicated and how it is received within the society under analysis. With that as background, here is a synopsis of our major findings by category in our modified PMESII-PT framework.

POLITICAL: ISIL has developed a political system in the image of the 7th Century Islamic Caliphate, which includes executive and judicial branches of government, but not a legislative branch. The legislative branch was unnecessary because Sharia is interpreted from the original religious sources, not created. In the ISIL system the executive branch interprets Sharia and communicates its interpretation to the greater organization. The judicial branch oversees the implementation of the executive’s interpretation of Sharia law by means of multilayered security and legal systems.

SECURITY: ISIL has concentrated power in its military and state security apparatus in order to expand its dominion to areas outside its current control and enforce its interpretation of Sharia within its territories. In order to weaken resolve in areas outside its control and to gain compliance in areas it controls, ISIL has created a culture of terror through the institutionalized use of local and media based public spectacles of primordial violence.

ECONOMIC: ISIL has a rentier economy, which derives a significant portion of its revenues from the sale of oil and gas to external clients. ISIL’s total cash and assets are estimated in the billions of dollars. Despite recent financial setbacks, ISIL has sufficient funds to maintain, or even expand, its security forces. As long as its security forces are effective, and in the absence of outside opposition, ISIL will continue to control its current territory. At its current funding rate ISIL can fight a holding action in the Levant while continuing to export terror to the rest of the world.

POPULATION: The population of ISIL-controlled territories is estimated at between six and eight million people. An estimated ten to twelve million people have fled from ISIL territory and adjacent regions affected by the Syrian Civil War. The conflict in the region has been devastating to the population, which is suffering excessive unemployment, food scarcity, economic paralyses, and generalized poverty. The vast amount of displaced persons is straining Iraqi and international humanitarian relief efforts.

SOCIETY: ISIL is an autocracy superimposed on top of tribal society, which by its nature is the antithesis of an autocracy. Social identity in ISIL-controlled areas is derived from three identity parameters (Arab, Muslim, and Sunni) shared by the general population. Historically, tribal affiliation has been the primary determinant of social status in both Syria and Iraq, but ISIL has altered this by elevating its members, many of whom are former Baathists, and foreign fighters to the upper echelons of ISIL society. ISIL further undermined the Sunni tribal leaders by usurping the economic means of production and distribution.

CULTURE: ISIL’s cultural folklore envisions a return to a 7th Century Islamic “Golden Age” when the original “pure” Caliphate ruled the Arabian Peninsula. The past is portrayed as an Islamic Eden unspoiled by infidels or apostates. ISIL narratives describe a final apocalypse in which the retrogressive forces of Islam triumph over the progressive, corrupted, non-believers of modernity, creating a new world order. This vision animates ISIL’s actions. ISIL justifies its brutality, deviation from traditional Islamic values regarding women, and crimes against humanity as service to the state. Because the Islamic State is everything, it follows that survival of the Islamic State is paramount. Based on ISIL’s actions when threatened with defeat in Iraq, if the situation in the Levant becomes untenable, ISIL leaders will most likely seek to relocate to a location, such as Libya, where they can continue their jihad.

INFRASTRUCTURE: To date, ISIL has shown the ability to maintain its physical infrastructure at an acceptable level of functionality, although its infrastructure has certainly deteriorated due to years of war and neglect. How long ISIL can continue to maintain its infrastructure is uncertain, particularly in light of ISIL’s recent drop in revenue and Coalition bombing. ISIL has employed a “scorched-earth” policy by destroying the infrastructure when driven out of urban or rural areas. ISIL will most likely continue this policy, if and when it has to cede more territory.

COMMUNICATIONS: ISIL has developed an almost textbook information operations campaign using all mediums of communications at its disposal to further its strategic goal of establishing a Caliphate. Using symbols and assorted media, ISIL is employing a multi-layered communications strategy to promote its ideology, secure its base, attract foreign fighters, create affiliates, and turn Muslim public opinion against the West.

GEOGRAPHY: In terms of the physical geography, ISIL occupies an area with very narrow and linear habitable areas generally surrounded by vast expanses of desert. Because of the desert terrain and lack of significant rainfall, life in the region is almost entirely dependent on the Tigris-Euphrates river system.