Which group poses the biggest security risk to New Jersey?
Domestic terrorists in 2017 were responsible for 45 attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling in the nation, including four incidents in New Jersey.
One involved an Ocean County man, allegedly inspired by ISIS, who was charged with building a pressure cooker bomb. Two white supremacists were arrested on charges of making threats and attempting to sell firearms and drugs.
The most serious incident involved a New Jersey man originally from Uzbekistan — Sayfullo Saipov — who rented a Home Depot truck then drove it through lower Manhattan on Halloween night, running down and killing eight people and injuring 11 others.
A senior intelligence analyst for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, who did not want to reveal his identity, said the biggest threat we’re facing is not from foreign terrorists.
“Every case from last year in New Jersey were people who were born and raised here and then radicalized in the United States," the analyst said.
He said this presents a number of challenges because it may sometimes be harder to track down these individuals.
“You see a lot more radicalization going on online. We see people like domestic extremists, especially white supremacists, switch to the dark web," the analyst said.
“The highest threat to New Jersey remains homegrown violent extremists, or HVEs, so those are the individuals that are radicalized online and are kind of inspired by ISIS or Al Qaeda.”
“When we look at moderate-threat groups, you’ll see white supremacists, anarchists, militia extremists, and then you will see some foreign actors such as ISIS.”
ISIS has never carried out an attack on American soil.
Patrick Rigby, the NJOHSP chief of staff, said situational awareness is key in preventing more incidents in the Garden State.
“If anyone sees anything that’s out of place, report it. That’s why we have the slogan 'See Something, Say Something.'”
He recommends people share any concern with homeland security officials by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ or by contacting local, county or state police.
“All reporting can remain anonymous, so callers have the option of using their name or not using their name.”
He said people who notice anything out of place should not hesitate to report it.
“We’d rather know more and be on the safe side than know less and have any risks.”