The 2020 Terrorism Threat Assessment from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness bumps the threat from Islamist terror groups to low while pushing the threat from white supremacists up to the highest level.
“Communities across the United States and around the globe have suffered unimaginable tragedies over the past year at the hands of individuals driven by hate. An attack targeting the Hispanic population during back-to-school season at an El Paso store left 22 dead. A woman was killed when a gunman opened fire during a Passover service at a synagogue in Poway, California. More than 50 people were killed when they were shot while worshiping at two mosques in New Zealand,” NJOHSP Director Jared Maples said in a statement accompanying the report.
“New Jersey has also faced incidents supportive of extremist ideologies,” he added.” In December, two individuals fatally shot Detective Joseph Seals, a dedicated 15-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, and three civilians in a Jersey City attack rooted in anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement sentiment. A Camden County man was arrested in November on accusations he directed acts of vandalism against two synagogues in Midwestern states for the purpose of intimidating minorities. A Sussex County man accused of being obsessed with Nazis and mass shootings was charged in June with weapons offenses and bias intimidation. Recruiting efforts by various groups have been prevalent, as reported flyering incidents more than doubled since 2018.”
“Homeland security and law enforcement professionals at all levels have taken notice of the rise in activity from white supremacist extremists.”
In the threat assessment, homegrown violent extremists and white supremacist extremists, an increase from 2019’s “moderate” threat level, are consider high threats.
“HVE support in the United States for foreign terrorist organizations will remain a constant, highlighted by an increase in arrests in 2019 compared to the previous year,” states the report.
Black separatist extremists moved from low to moderate in response to the Jersey City attack, joining anarchists, militia, anti-government and sovereign citizen extremists at this threat level.
ISIS was moved to a “low” threat. “ISIS continues to focus on establishing its worldwide presence, but the group has not conducted an attack in the United States,” states the report. “ISIS’s inspiration of supporters in the United States makes homegrown violent extremists a consistently high threat.”
Hurras al-Din, al-Qaeda in Syria, was added to the list under low threats, joining other al-Qaeda chapters, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the Pakistani Taliban, environmental and animal-rights extremists, and anti-abortion extremists.
“White supremacist extremists will pose a high threat to New Jersey in 2020 as supporters of this ideology demonstrate their willingness and capability to carry out attacks, direct and inspire sympathizers online, and attempt to network globally,” says the report, noting that “over the last few years, white supremacist extremists cited a violent form of accelerationism as motivation for violent acts after attackers and supporters endorsed the theory online.”
White supremacist groups “have actively attempted to spread their ideologies and recruit new members” throughout New Jersey, with 168 reported instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution since January 2019 compared to 46 in 2018.
“In 2019, domestic extremists conducted nine attacks and were responsible for an additional 35 plots, threats of violence, and instances of weapons stockpiling, according to an NJOHSP nationwide review,” the report added. “Race-based extremists were responsible for 57 percent of all domestic terrorist incidents, highlighting a new threat focus for law enforcement.”