Terrorism

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25 Questions

What was the target of the most lethal attack in May in Allen, Texas?

Shopping mall

What ideological views were consistent with the attacker in Allen, Texas?

Involuntary celibate violent extremist ideologies

How are violent extremists likely to share novel tactics and techniques?

Via encrypted communications applications

What have some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists improved to inspire attacks?

Quality of their online publications

Which foreign terrorist groups are mentioned as seeking to rebuild overseas?

al-Qa‘ida and ISIS

Which terrorist group is considered an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Hamas

What is a key tactic employed by Hamas against Israeli citizens?

Rocket launches

Which group has remained the de facto ruler of Gaza as of 2023?

Hamas

In what year did Hamas conduct a surprise ground attack into Israel, sparking another war with Israel?

2023

Which group has not engaged in heavy fighting with the Somali military?

Hamas

What group is expected to remain the primary sponsor of terrorism among state actors?

Hezbollah

Which regional branch of ISIS has garnered more prominence post the US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

ISIS-Khorasan

Who is Iran interested in plotting attacks against in retaliation for the death of Qassem Soleimani?

Current and former US government officials

Which group has individuals with terrorism connections interested in using established travel routes to facilitate access to the United States?

Muslim Brotherhood

Who does Iran rely on for surveillance and lethal plotting against the United States?

Dual nationals

What are the primary activities of U.S-based cells affiliated with extremist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah?

Fundraising, recruiting, and intelligence gathering

Which county is identified as a 'hot spot' for potential terrorist attacks according to the text?

Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ)

What is the recommended course of action upon receiving a telephoned bomb threat according to the text?

Record everything the caller says and notify the police

What should one do if there is an explosion according to the guidance provided?

Get under a sturdy table or desk, then exit the building quickly

Which extremist group is NOT mentioned as having supporters in the United States?

Muslim Brotherhood

What type of targets are likely to be attacked by both domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and individuals associated with foreign terrorist organizations?

US critical infrastructure

According to the Homeland Security 2024 Threat Assessment, why will domestic and foreign adversaries likely target critical infrastructure in the next year?

Because they perceive targeting these sectors as detrimental to US industries

What is noted as having increased over the last year, according to the text?

Physical attacks on critical infrastructure

Which type of institutions are mentioned as potential targets of violence in the text?

Faith-based institutions

What are some factors that could mobilize individuals to commit violence in the coming months?

Perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative/judicial decisions related to sociopolitical issues

Study Notes

Types of Terrorism

  • Domestic terrorism: terrorist acts committed in the perpetrator's own country against their fellow citizens, e.g. Oklahoma City Bombing.
  • International terrorism: violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored), e.g. 9/11.

CIA Recognized Terrorist Groups

  • The CIA recognizes over 60 terrorist groups designated by the US State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations that are currently active.
  • The CIA also recognizes 10 non-designated, self-proclaimed branches and affiliates of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) as currently active.

Al-Qa'ida (AQ)

  • Formed under Usama BIN LADIN (UBL) in 1988, now one of the largest and longest-operating jihadist organizations in the world.
  • Helped finance, recruit, transport, and train fighters for the Afghan resistance against the former Soviet Union in the 1980s.
  • Merged with al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) in June 2001.
  • Developed a reputation for carrying out large-scale, mass casualty attacks against civilians.
  • Has lost dozens of mid- and senior-level operatives to counterterrorism efforts, but continues to recruit, plan, inspire, and conduct attacks.
  • Has established affiliated organizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
  • Tied to the Taliban in Afghanistan and remained active there into 2024.

Al-Qa'ida Targets, Tactics, and Weapons

  • Considers its enemies to be Shia Muslims, US and Western interests, "apostate" governments, and the Islamic State.
  • Targets have included embassies, restaurants, hotels, airplanes, trains, and tourist sites.
  • Employs a combination of guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against security and military forces.
  • Known for use of suicide bombers, car bombs, explosive-laden boats, and airplanes.
  • Conducted the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Al-Shabaab (AS)

  • Descended from Al-Ittihad Al-Islami, a Somali terrorist group whose leaders fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
  • Operated as a core al-Qa'ida affiliate since 2012.
  • Was the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council that took over parts of Somalia in 2006.
  • Engaged in an insurgency against the transitional governments of Somalia and supporting foreign military forces.
  • Responsible for numerous high-profile bombings and shootings throughout Somalia, causing over 3,000 civilian deaths since 2015.

Al-Shabaab Targets, Tactics, and Weapons

  • Targets Somali Government officials, military units, police, and civilians, international aid workers, journalists, and foreign troops.
  • Has attacked hotels, schools, military bases, police stations, shopping areas, and telecommunications towers in Kenya.
  • Employs suicide bombings, guerrilla warfare, and terrorist tactics against security and military forces.
  • Uses a combination of small arms, light and heavy machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and improvised explosive devices.

HAMAS

  • Established in 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Prior to 2005, conducted numerous attacks against Israel, including more than 50 suicide bombings.
  • Won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, giving it control of significant Palestinian Authority (PA) ministries in Gaza.
  • Expelled the PA and its dominant political faction Fatah in a violent takeover in 2007.
  • Since 2007, engaged in sporadic rocket attacks, border clashes, organized protests, and periodic targeted attacks against Israeli citizens.

HAMAS Targets, Tactics, and Weapons

  • Targets Israeli military forces and civilians, as well as Islamic State and other Salafist armed group members based in Gaza.
  • Conducted suicide bombings, improvised explosive attacks, shootings, and rocket launches.
  • Fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel during both the 50-day conflict in 2014 and the 11-day conflict in 2021.
  • Uses a variety of weapons, including small arms, light and heavy machine guns, rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and man-portable air defense systems.

Terrorist Threats in the US

  • According to the Homeland Security 2024 Threat Assessment, terrorist groups like al-Qa'ida and ISIS are seeking to rebuild overseas.
  • Foreign terrorist groups maintain worldwide networks of supporters that could seek to target the US.
  • Iran is expected to remain the primary sponsor of terrorism and continue its efforts to advance plots against individuals in the US.
  • American terrorist "hot spots" (at risk for attack) include Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ), Harris County (Houston, TX), New York County (Manhattan, NY), Los Angeles County (Los Angeles, CA), Miami-Dade County (Miami, FL), San Francisco County (San Francisco, CA), and Washington, DC.

Bomb Threats and Explosions

  • If you receive a telephoned bomb threat, get as much information from the caller as possible, keep the caller on the line, and record everything that is said.
  • If there is an explosion, get under a sturdy table or desk, watch for obviously weakened floors and stairways, and leave the building as quickly as possible.
  • Do not stop to retrieve personal possessions or make phone calls.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Once you are out, do not stand in front of windows, glass doors, or other potentially hazardous areas.

Test your knowledge on the Homeland Security 2024 Threat Assessment which discusses state-sponsored terrorism, online engagement by foreign terrorists, and the regional branch of ISIS following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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