Christchurch May Inspire Other Terrorists – DHS-FBI

Christchurch May Inspire Other Terrorists – DHS-FBI

This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) is intended to provide information on Australian national and violent extremist Brenton Tarrant’s 15 March 2019 attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. These attacks underscore the enduring nature of violent threats posed to faith-based communities. FBI, DHS, and NCTC advise federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners responsible for securing faith-based communities in the Homeland to remain vigilant in light of the enduring threat to faith-based communities posed by domestic extremists (DEs), as well as by homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) who may seek retaliation. This JIB is provided to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners to effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to incidents and terrorist attacks in the United States.

(U) Attack Details

(U//FOUO) On 15 March 2019, New Zealand police arrested an Australian national who appeared to be inspired by a white supremacist ideology and who allegedly conducted a shooting attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. This attack highlights the enduring threat of violence posed to faith-based communities. There are currently 49 victims deceased, and 20 others are listed as being in critical condition following the attack.

» (U//FOUO) On 15 March 2019, at about 1:40 PM local time, Australian national Brenton Tarrant used firearms to attack the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, before conducting a similar shooting attack at the Linwood Masjid Mosque, approximately four miles away. Tarrant drove to the attack sites and livestreamed a video of the attack. Police also discovered improvised explosive devices in a vehicle connected with the attack. Tarrant is currently the only known perpetrator; however, investigation of his movements and associates continues.

» (U//FOUO) Tarrant disseminated a manifesto prior to the shooting which detailed his concerns of perceived “white genocide.” The manifesto contains a wide range of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views. One reason listed as to why he carried out the attack was “to create conflict…within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political, and racial divide within the United states [sic].”

» (U//FOUO) Tarrant claimed to have been planning the attack for two years and recently relocated to New Zealand to live temporarily while he “planned and trained.” He claimed to have chosen to conduct his attack in Christchurch three months prior to show such attacks could happen anywhere.

(U) Mosque Attacks Could Incite Like-Minded and Retaliatory Attacks

(U//FOUO) We are concerned online sharing of Tarrant’s livestreamed footage could amplify viewer reaction to the violent attack and possibly incite similar attacks by those adhering to violent extremist ideologies in the United States and abroad, as well as retaliatory attacks from HVEs and individuals otherwise affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations. Tarrant appeared to have been influenced by prior attacks by violent extremists in the United States and other countries, and we remain concerned that US-based DEs of similar ideologies could become inspired by this attack. Although most HVEs generally do not mobilize to violence in response to specific events and instead are usually influenced by a confluence of sociopolitical, ideological, and personal factors, exceptions may occur and we remain concerned for the potential of retaliatory attacks by some HVEs, as we have already seen calls for attacks by violent extremists online.

» (U//FOUO) Tarrant claimed Norwegian mass attacker Anders Brevik gave his “blessing” for the attack. Tarrant’s ammunition cases also displayed handwritten names of violent extremists in Canada and elsewhere who previously conducted violent attacks on Muslims or in support of violent extremist ideologies.

» (U//FOUO) An examination of online jihadist media following the mosque attacks indicates various al-Qa‘ida and ISIS supporters are posting attack images to express outrage and are calling upon all Muslims to respond to the New Zealand attacks by launching their own near-term attacks in retaliation.

DHS Reveals – Unmanned Aircrafts Systems Endanger Cybersecurity

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)/Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA) assesses that unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) provide malicious actors an additional method of gaining undetected proximity to networks and equipment within critical infrastructure sectors. Malicious actors could use this increased proximity to exploit unsecured wireless systems and exfiltrate information. Malicious actors could also exploit vulnerabilities within UASs and UAS supply chains to compromise UASs belonging to critical infrastructure operators and disrupt or interfere with legitimate UAS operations.

 

UAS FACILITATE PHYSICAL ACCESS TO UNSECURED SYSTEMS

UASs provide malicious actors an additional method of gaining proximity to networks and equipment within critical infrastructure sectors. Malicious actors could then use the proximity provided by a UAS to wirelessly exploit unsecured systems and extract information from systems they cannot otherwise access remotely or may not be able to access due to range limitations. This includes networks and devices within secured buildings, as well as networks and devices behind fencing and walls.

UASs can also allow a malicious actor to wirelessly exploit vulnerabilities from a distance (figure 1). The prevalent ownership and operation of UASs by the general public, the distance from which UAS can be operated, and a lack of tracking data can also provide malicious actors a level of anonymity that otherwise may not be available. UASs, in particular UASs, are typically more difficult to detect than a malicious actor attempting to trespass beyond physical barriers.

UAS FOR WIRELESS SYSTEM EXPLOITATION

Malicious actors could utilize UASs in order to wirelessly exploit access points and unsecured networks and devices. This can include using UASs in order to inject malware, execute malicious code, and perform man-in-the-middle attacks. UASs can also deliver hardware for exploiting unsecured wireless systems, allowing malicious actors persistent access to the wireless system until the hardware is detected or runs out of power. While OCIA does not know of a confirmed incident utilizing UASs to exploit wireless systems, researchers have demonstrated this capability.

MALICIOUS ACTORS CAN EXPLOIT COMPROMISED UAS

While UASs can be used as a tool for an attacker, they are also vulnerable to exploitation. Many commercial UAS variations, for example, currently communicate with ground stations and operators using unencrypted feeds. This can allow a malicious actor to intercept and review data sent to and from the UAS.

 

SECRET – DHS, Fusion Centers Struggle to Respond to Mass Shootings

Public Intelligence

Four days after the mass shooting last July in Aurora, Colorado, a project of the Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security called Ready Houston released a training video to help educate members the public about how to survive a mass shooting.  The six-minute video, which was produced with $200,000 from the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, includes a dramatic recreation of a man dressed entirely in black walking into an office building and beginning to shoot people at random with a shotgun that he pulls from a small satchel.  Variously described as “outlandish“, “surreal” and “over-the-top“, the video has met with mixed responses since it was re-released by several fusion centers and local agencies, including most recently the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.

The response to the video and other instructional items produced by DHS, fusion centers and law enforcement agencies in response to recent mass shootings demonstrates the difficulty in responding to tragedies where often little can be done to save innocent lives.  After the mass shooting last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, fusion centers around the country rushed to issue bulletins discussing everything from tactics for countering mass shooters to suggestions for dealing with children in response to the shooting.  Some of the bulletins present useful facts regarding procedures for dealing with active shooter situations, the law enforcement term for incidents where an individual is attempting to kill people in a confined area, and links to resources for emergency planners and school officials.  The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center issued a bulletin the day of the shooting to “provide some basic information on active shooter situations and immediate actions that should be taken in the event an active shooter incident were to occur.”  The bulletin contains a three-point plan for reacting to an active shooter:

1. EVACUATE (if possible)
• Have an escape route and plan in mind.
• Leave your belongings behind.
• Keep your hands visible and open palms facing forward.
• Follow instructions of police officers.
• Have a designated meeting point and knowledge of everyone who is present. 

2. HIDE OUT
• If you are in an office, stay there.
• If you are in a hallway, lobby etc. get into a room.
• Lock and barricade the door with large items (i.e., desks, file cabinets). If the door can not be locked or barricaded, lay on your back with your feet up against the door to use your body weight as a barricade.
• Get as low as possible, lay on the floor.
• Silence all electronic devices.
• Remain quiet. Remain calm.
• Dial 911, if possible, to alert police of location, physical description, and type weapon(s) used by the shooter(s).
• If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

3. TAKE ACTION
• As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her. Act with physical aggression, and throw items at the active shooter.

Another bulletin from the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC) called “Helping Your Community Feel Safe” describes techniques for helping children cope with the most recent mass shooting.  Given that the “magnitude of death and destruction in traumatic events require special attention and communication with children”, the bulletin recommends providing “structured time to discuss the event” and limiting “exposure to television and other sources of information about the disaster and its victims, especially for children.”  The bulletin also recommends that parents and teachers be “alert to changes in a child’s usual behavior — drop in grades, loss of interest, not doing homework, increased sleepiness or distraction, isolating themselves and weight changes.”  Teachers are particularly encouraged to increase their “students’ sense of control and mastery at school” by letting them plan a “special activity”.

Issues with providing practical responses to school attacks and mass shootings have also affected other agencies.  Past bulletins from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime have stated that “school shooters” often “engaged in repetitive viewing of violent media and were often fascinated with previous school shootings.”  The bulletin warns of “repeated viewing of movies depicting school shootings, such as ‘Zero Day’ and ‘Elephant’,” which “may indicate a fascination with campus attacks.”  A 2006 guide from the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC), one of six Regional Information Sharing Systems funded by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, recommends identifying school shooters before they strike by their interests and school work.  The guide lists interest in “Satanist cults, Nazism” and “violent media” as potential indicators of a school shooter, recommending that teachers look out for “dark themes present in school work, personal writing, humor, drawings, or doodles” that may indicate a predisposition towards violent behavior.