🔴 A 2024 assessment suggests foreign terror groups are a "low" threat to NJ

🔴 Officials are more concerned with domestic extremists

🔴 Authorities say the public is their first line of defense

Individuals who've gone rogue are a much bigger threat to your safety right now than foreign terror groups, according to the latest threat assessment from the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Noting that ongoing problems overseas and the upcoming presidential election have the potential to put the public at an even greater risk this year, the threat assessment calls out homegrown violent extremists and white racially motivated extremists as the most prominent threats facing New Jersey in 2024.

Over the last five years, more than a third of all attacks and verified threats by homegrown violent extremists — those who draw inspiration from foreign terrorist organizations to plan or launch their own attacks stateside — occurred in New Jersey and the surrounding states, the report says.

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"We have a highly concentrated population here. We're at the intersection of two very large metropolitan areas," Laurie Doran, NJOHSP director, told New Jersey 101.5. "We have a lot of industries that are of interest. We have a lot of critical infrastructure."

And these individuals may be motivated by ongoing political unrest, such as the Israel-HAMAS conflict, to act on their beliefs in a dangerous way, the report suggests.

White racially motivated extremists — essentially, extreme racists — "are likely to focus on attacking soft targets due to high casualty potential in 2024," the report says.

The assessment mentions the March 2023 arrest of a Toms River man who allegedly launched a "white lives matter" attack against individuals two months prior at an anti-racism church concert in Asbury Park.

NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness
NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness

In the report, foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIS are considered to be at a "low" threat level in New Jersey.

"As extremists with different ideologies join forces, the threats we face — in New Jersey, across the country and around the world — are constantly evolving," Doran said. "Our agency will continue to confront these challenges with courage and determination."

The Office also noted that the cybersecurity threat in New Jersey remains high.

In 2023, officials in New Jersey documented over 4,100 ransomware attacks worldwide that were publicly listed. The victim lists contained 60 Garden State public- and private-sector organizations. And domestic extremists continue to heavily rely on mainstream social media platforms, the report says.

Doran said their report, which is now in its 16th edition, is meant for the public as much as it is for officials. The public is the "first line of defense" for authorities, she said.

"We are asking the public to help be our eyes and ears because law enforcement can't be everywhere," Doran said.

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