How NJ is trying to prevent terror attacks in 2018
As the New Year begins, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is looking at a number of possible terrorism scenarios that could unfold in 2018.
According to Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the threat landscape is constantly evolving but to date, “there are no known or credible threats to our community here in New Jersey.”
Maples said it’s become clear a terror attack can be carried out by one lone wolf or multiple individuals.
“We take every threat seriously and this includes homegrown violent extremists, that is, those inspired by foreign terrorist organizations."
He stressed while there is no particular threat on the horizon right now, “my office is constantly working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to monitor any threats to the state of New Jersey.”
He noted the recent trend of using a car or truck in terror attacks is certainly worrisome.
“We’ve seen vehicles adopted widely as a tactic over the past year. They’re easy to acquire and they can be executed with minimal training and planning, so it’s definitely a concern,” said Maples.
“We’ve put out a lot of materials to help mitigate those threats. You can place barriers at open access points, you can maintain a security presence at entrances or along the site perimeter and establish vehicle screening points for access to events or facilities.”
While it might seem like the chance of a terror attack in New Jersey would be minimal, he said that because we’re right next to New York and Philadelphia, that assumption would be incorrect.
“The threat landscape is constantly evolving and is definitely not restricted by geography,” he said.
A current terrorism case in federal court involves a New Jersey man accused of detonating a pipe bomb in Seaside Park and another in Manhattan in 2016. Another explosive believed to have been created by Ahmad Khan Rahimi was detonated at a train station in his hometown of Elizabeth.
Getting information from the public about anything that may seem odd or strange is critically important.
“People know what’s routine in their lives and if something appears to be out of place, we definitely ask the public to let authorities know and our office know.’
So what qualifies as suspicious these days?
Maples said really it’s any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism related crime.
“This includes but is not limited to someone surveilling or recording activity around a specific area or event, attempting to gain sensitive information about a place or a person, testing security, or even penetrating sensitive areas or observing or taking notes on security and law enforcement operations.”
He said to give information about anything suspicious, you can call 1-866-4-SAFE-NJ, or email any information to email@example.com.
“We all have a part to play in helping to keep our state and our country secure.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
Also on New Jersey 101.5: