The biggest terror threat facing the Garden State
For the second year in a row, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is making public an unclassified document on terrorist threats.
The 2017 Terrorism Threat Assessment will be released Tuesday.
According to Chris Rodriguez, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the greatest threat Garden State residents are facing right now is from homegrown violent extremists.
“HVEs, homegrown violent extremists, are inherently difficult for law enforcement and homeland security to detect and deter, and so a lot of the focus that we have had for several years is on response, on training and exercise, on public awareness of the signs of terrorism,” he said.
Rodriguez also said there are other troubling patterns developing on the domestic terrorist front.
“The first is the sharp rise in attacks against law enforcement. Another thing we’re seeing is a rise in race-based violence,” he said
He said there has also been a rise in militia activity, an example being anti-government militants occupying a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon last year.
“There is also growing concern about anarchists mobilizing amid civil unrest. What we are seeing is anarchists, particularly out in the west. They are beginning to join other radical social movements, including white supremacists and separatists, in causing violence around government facilities,” Rodriguez said.
On the international front, he said ISIS is under a lot of pressure, especially in Iraq and Syria, and as a result “ISIS itself is calling for followers to conduct attacks in the west, including in the United States.”
He said as ISIS begins to lose more territory and leaders, “it will almost act out in desperation to try and inspire individuals to conduct attacks.”
He stressed what New Jersey residents should keep in mind is that they are the first line of defense.
“In this threat environment that we face, their actions make a difference,” he said.
Rodriguez said giving the public as much information as possible is very important “so that they are informed and so that they can take appropriate actions when needed, public engagement and public awareness is absolutely critical in this threat environment.”
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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.