Homegrown violent extremistsNew Jersey: Homegrown Violent Extremists Greater Threat Than Foreign Terrorists

Published 26 February 2020

New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) now regards white supremacist extremists as posing a threat which is equal or greater than that posed by terrorists inspired by Islamist fundamentalism (in both cases, homegrown violent extremists [HVEs] pose a far greater threat than foreign terrorists). “Homeland security and law enforcement professionals at all levels have taken notice of the rise in activity from white supremacist extremists,” NJOHSP says in an introduction to the annual Terrorism Threat Assessment issued by the office. “New Jersey is committed to protecting the diversity of culture and faith that shapes our great State. For that reason, NJOHSP increased the threat posed by white supremacist extremists from moderate to high in 2020, joining homegrown violent extremists as the most persistent hostile actors in New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) the other day released the 13th annual Terrorism Threat Assessment, which analyzes New Jersey’s overall threat landscape. The assessment provides information regarding homegrown violent extremists (HVEs), domestic and international terrorists, cybersecurity concerns, targeted mass violence, and attacks against interfaith communities. The analysis will guide counterterrorism efforts for the year ahead.

“The ever-changing threat landscape in New Jersey and around the country requires us to adjust our strategies to anticipate new threats while remaining ready to combat those already existing,” said Jared M. Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. “We will continue to develop and share the latest intelligence alongside our partners to support counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and preparedness efforts throughout the State.”

Of the 44 domestic terrorist incidents in the United States in 2019, four had a nexus to New Jersey. Six of the 41 HVEs identified in the United States were arrested in New Jersey and New York. Currently, there are no credible threats to New Jersey.

NJOHSP assesses that HVEs remain one of the highest threats to the State in 2020, as foreign terrorist organizations encourage potential attackers to target Americans, provide material support, and travel overseas to fight.

The threat from white supremacist extremists is also high due to the number of threats, plots, and attacks in 2019. In 2020, white supremacist extremists are likely to cite accelerationism as a motivation for future violent acts, and recruitment efforts promoting extremist ideology continue throughout the State [accelerationism is a term white supremacists have assigned to their desire to hasten the collapse of society as we know it].

The inability of foreign terrorist organizations to conduct attacks in the United States ranks them as a low threat to New Jersey. While the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is significant, the group will likely operate similarly under its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi.

Additionally, regardless of motivation, a diverse group of individuals are leveraging forms of targeted mass violence against public spaces, schools, interfaith communities, workplaces, and other venues, according to an NJOHSP review of 2019 attacks. The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) also assesses that cyber threat actors, including nation-states and terrorist organizations, who target cybersecurity vulnerabilities pose a moderate threat to New Jersey.