With the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks fast approaching, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is ramping up efforts to stay alert for possible problems.

On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists flew hijacked passenger jets into both towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing 2,996 people and wounding more than 6,000 others. Among the dead were 674 New Jersey residents who perished when the twin towers collapsed and were destroyed.

According to Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the 9/11 anniversary “has been promoted by overseas terrorist organizations as a date to target U.S. interests.”

He said last year, “Al Qaeda, while remembering the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, called on Muslims to repeat a, quote, '9/11-like attack against the United States.'"

Maples stressed there are no known or credible threats to New Jersey at this time, but residents should not forget we do face an enduring and persistent threat.

“Any time there are significant anniversaries of attacks, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and our local, state and federal partners are on heightened alert," Maples said.

He said as the anniversary approaches, everybody, not just law enforcement, needs to keep their eyes open.

“Homeland security has now become hometown security, and in an environment where our adversaries can strike at any time, and in any place, the public is our first line of defense,” he said. “If New Jersey residents see something, they need to say something.”

Maples said you can report suspicious activity to local law enforcement, and to NJOHSP by calling 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ, or by emailing information to tips@njohsp.gov.

So what kind of behavior should be considered suspicious and reported to authorities?

“Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime,” he said. “This includes but is not limited to someone surveying or recording activity around a specific area or event, attempting to gain sensitive information about a place or person, testing security, or even penetrating sensitive areas.”

He said another example of suspicious activity would include someone observing and taking notes on security or law enforcement operations.

When asked whether a lone wolf or organized group attack presented a greater threat to New Jersey, Maples said he didn't want to "tier" them.

“There are persistent threats throughout both of those areas, and they’re both something we have an eye on," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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