NJ 2024 Threat Assessment Underscores State Counterintelligence Efforts, Terrorism Threats and Cyber Risks

NJ 2024 Threat Assessment Underscores State Counterintelligence Efforts, Terrorism Threats and Cyber Risks

HAMILTON, NJ – The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness’ 2024 Threat Assessment, released Feb. 26, highlights enduring homegrown violent and racially motivated extremism threats, in addition to elevated cybersecurity risks and the agency’s expanding counterintelligence efforts.

In the agency’s 16th edition of this annual report, NJOHSP again forecasts New Jersey’s threat environment for the coming year in an effort to assist New Jersey public- and private-sector partners in identifying, mitigating and countering both physical and cyber threats.

According to the report, in 2024, homegrown violent extremists, who draw inspiration from foreign terrorist organizations to plan or execute attacks in the U.S., may be motivated by ongoing geopolitical unrest, such as the Israel-HAMAS conflict. Over the last five years, 37 percent of all HVE attacks, identified plots and verified threats in the United States occurred in New Jersey and the surrounding states, New York and Pennsylvania, further highlighting the sustained threat to this region.

NJOHSP analysts also assess that white racially motivated extremists are likely to focus on attacking soft targets due to high casualty potential in 2024. Similar WRME tactics have resulted in the deaths of 51 individuals and the injury of approximately 53 others nationwide since 2019. Those subscribing to this extremist ideology typically write and post hateful rhetoric online to inspire individuals who share their views and intimidate those who oppose them.

“As extremists with different ideologies join forces, the threats we face—in New Jersey, across the country and around the world—are constantly evolving,” said NJOHSP Director Laurie Doran. “Our agency will continue to confront these challenges with courage and determination. We know we cannot prevent every attack, but we can lower the risks by detecting and responding to physical and cyber threats, by collaborating and communicating with our various partners and by informing and involving the public to enhance our readiness.”

Under State directive, in 2023, NJOHSP formally adopted state-level counterintelligence initiatives and expanded on those strategic efforts, a development reflected in this year’s assessment. The 2024 report calls attention to a diverse range of nation-state actors and individuals, who are working at the behest of foreign governments and are actively targeting industries and individuals throughout New Jersey. Over the past five years, these bad actors have employed physical, cyber and technical strategies to negatively impact the public and private sector in an effort to gain economic and military advantage over the U.S.

2024 NJOHSP Threat Assessment Highlights

  • HVEs and WRMEs remain the most prominent terrorist threats to New Jersey in 2024.
  • The overall cyber threat to the state remains high. NJOHSP’s New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell cautions public- and private-sector institutions, critical infrastructure assets and residents to safeguard against an array of cyberattacks that are costly and operationally debilitating. Nation-state actors, cybercrime syndicates, hacktivists and others with diverse motivations and considerable technical capabilities present significant threats.
  • Abortion-related, anarchist, anti-government, black racially motivated, militia and sovereign citizen extremists pose a moderate threat to New Jersey. In 2023, extremists attacked soft targets, threatened Jewish communities and employed intimidation tactics to motivate others to engage in similar criminal activities. Domestic extremists, including anarchists, racially motivated and anti-government extremists, will likely co-opt the 2024 presidential election as an opportunity to promote their ideologies and engage in violent acts, targeting vulnerable locations, such as mass gatherings and critical infrastructure.
  • An NJOHSP review found that domestic extremists and HVEs continue to heavily rely on mainstream social media platforms. Forty-five percent of their online activities included the discussion of ideologies and posting of threats. A smaller proportion of extremists used these platforms to view propaganda and plan attacks.
  • Critical infrastructure threats remain a concern as domestic extremists will leverage social media and encrypted messaging platforms to share tactics, recruit and obtain guidance for target selection prior to an attack. Between 2020 and 2023, there were 56 attacks, plots and threats on critical infrastructure across the United States, and in 29 of those cases, domestic extremists used social media in their pre-operational activities.
  • Foreign terrorist organizations, such as al-Qa’ida and ISIS, will pose a low threat to the state but remain committed to combating the U.S., highlighting successes and exploiting global events to encourage HVEs to attack the Homeland and support efforts overseas.
  • According to NJOHSP’s counterintelligence findings, foreign actors are using transnational repression to illegally target their political opponents, dissidents, journalists and others living in the U.S. to silence their victim’s activities and coerce compliance. Transnational repression includes, among other things, stalking, harassment, hacking, physical violence, arrest or extradition requests to third countries, attempted kidnapping, detainment of a target’s family members overseas and online disinformation campaigns.

“See Something, Say Something”

In conjunction with the assessment’s release, NJOHSP continues to emphasize the importance of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign.

Anyone who observes suspicious or unusual activity should immediately report it to local law enforcement or to NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch Desk by calling 866-4-SAFE-NJ or emailing tips@njohsp.gov.

For more information and to view the 2024 Threat Assessment, visit njohsp.gov/analysis/2024-threat-assessment.https://www.njohsp.gov/analysis/2024-threat-assessment

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