Date Issued: June 07, 2022 09:00 am ET
View as PDF: National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin – June 07, 2022 09:00 am (pdf, 1 page, 295.54 KB)
This DHS NTAS Bulletin is consistent with the latest OODA Loop research on disinformation and misinformation, which are defined in a variety of ways. The Aspen Institute’s Information Disorder Commission employed the following definitions:
Information disorder, coined by First Draft Co-Founder Claire Wardle, denotes the broad societal challenges associated with misinformation, disinformation, and malformation.
Disinformation is false or misleading information, intentionally created or strategically amplified to mislead for a purpose (e.g., political, financial, or social gain).
Misinformation is false or misleading information that is not necessarily intentional.
OODA Loop research utilizes the framework formulated by OODA CTO Bob Gourley, that of the Cognitive Infrastructure of a nation-state, which is “the mental capacities of a nation-state’s citizens and the decision-making ability of people, organizations, and government. It also includes the information channels used to inform decision-making capabilities and the education and training systems used to prepare citizens and organizations for critical thinking. Our cognitive infrastructure is threatened in ways few of us ever imagined just a few years ago. Traditional propaganda techniques have been modernized and are now aided by advanced technologies and new information dissemination methods.”
Further OODA resources on the challenges of misinformation, disinformation, information disorder, and cognitive infrastructure can be found at the end of this post.
From the DHS NTAS Bulletin
Summary of Terrorism Threat to the United States
The United States remains in a heightened threat environment, as noted in the previous Bulletin, and several recent attacks have highlighted the dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment. In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets. These targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents. Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism. Foreign adversaries—including terrorist organizations and nation-state adversaries—also remain intent on exploiting the threat environment to promote or inspire violence, sow discord, or undermine U.S. democratic institutions. We continue to assess that the primary threat of mass casualty violence in the United States stems from lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances.
Issued: June 07, 2022 09:00 am
Expires: November 30, 2022 02:00 pm
Key aspects of the evolving threat environment include:
Several recent violent attacks by lone offenders against minority communities, schools, houses of worship, and mass transit have demonstrated the dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment facing the United States:
- Individuals in online forums that routinely promulgate domestic violent extremist and conspiracy theory-related content have praised the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and encouraged copycat attacks. Others have seized on the event to attempt to spread disinformation and incite grievances, including claims it was a government-staged event meant to advance gun control measures.
- The suspect in the grocery store attack in Buffalo, New York in May 2022 claimed he was motivated by racist, anti-Black, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, often referred to as the “great replacement” or “white genocide.” These theories claim that minorities, multiculturalists, and a ruling elite are deliberately threatening the existence of the white race. The alleged 2019 attacker at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas cited similar grievances and inspiration for the attack, and both the Buffalo and El Paso attackers indicated they were inspired by the 2019 attacker of two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
- A violent attack in May 2022 in Laguna Woods, California targeted congregants of a church that serves the Taiwanese community. The attack killed one individual and wounded five others. According to the lead investigative agency, the suspect also placed Molotov cocktail-like devices around the church and secured the doors with chains and super glue.
- In April 2022, an individual wearing a gas mask threw two smoke canisters and opened fire on a New York City subway during morning rush hour, resulting in injuries to dozens of individuals. Following the shooting, a number of pro-al-Qa‘ida and ISIS users celebrated the attack, which remains under investigation.
The continued proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding current events could reinforce existing personal grievances or ideologies, and in combination with other factors, could inspire individuals to mobilize to violence.
- Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances related to their perception that the U.S. government is unwilling or unable to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and have called for violence to stem the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States. We assess that there is increased risk of domestic violent extremists using changes in border security-related policies and/or enforcement mechanisms to justify violence against individuals, such as minorities and law enforcement officials involved in the enforcement of border security.
- Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies.
- As the United States enters mid-term election season this year, we assess that calls for violence by domestic violent extremists directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers will likely increase.
Foreign adversaries remain intent on exploiting the dynamic threat environment to sow discord, undermine U.S. democratic institutions, and promote or inspire violence by their supporters.
- Following the January 2022 hostage situation at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, ISIS and al-Qa’ida supporters released statements celebrating the hostage taker for bringing attention to the issue of a federally convicted female al-Qa’ida supporter and suggested the event could serve as inspiration for future attackers. Foreign terrorist organizations will likely continue to use online platforms to attempt to inspire U.S.-based individuals to engage in violent activity.
- In April 2022, ISIS released an audio message announcing a new global campaign of attacks to “avenge” the deaths of the group’s deceased leader and spokesman. The message called on ISIS supporters to carry out knife and vehicle ramming attacks in the United States and Europe.
- The pro-al-Qa’ida Malahem Cyber Army released the third issue of its “Wolves of Manhattan” magazine in April 2022, which focused on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The magazine encouraged supporters to travel to Ukraine to acquire training and weapons to use in attacks against the West.
- Chinese, Iranian, Russian, and other foreign malign influence actors have sought to contribute to U.S. internal discord and weaken its focus and position internationally. These actors have amplified narratives that radicalized individuals have cited to justify violence, including conspiracy theories and false or misleading narratives promoting U.S. societal division. In recent months, Russia and other actors have also amplified conspiracy theories alleging U.S. responsibility for the Russia-Ukraine crisis and claiming U.S. support for bio-weapons labs abroad. Some of these actors have used these conspiracy theories to justify calls for violence against U.S. officials and institutions.
- As the U.S. 2022 mid-term elections approach, malign foreign actors could bolster their messaging to sow discord and influence U.S. audiences in keeping with practices during previous election cycles.
How We Are Responding
DHS works with partners across every level of government, in the private sector, and in local communities to keep Americans safe, including through the following examples of our resources and support:
- DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continue to share timely and actionable information and intelligence with the broadest audience possible. This includes sharing information and intelligence with our partners across every level of government and in the private sector. We conduct recurring threat briefings with private sector and state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus partners, including to inform security planning efforts. DHS remains committed to working with our partners to identify and prevent all forms of terrorism and targeted violence, and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe.
- DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center released updated behavioral indicators of U.S. extremist mobilization to violence. Further, I&A’s National Threat Evaluation and Reporting Program continues to provide tools and resources for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners on preventing terrorism and targeted violence, including online suspicious activity reporting training.
- DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) works with government and private sector partners – including owners and operators of critical infrastructure, soft target facilities, and public gathering places – to enhance security and mitigate risks posed by acts of terrorism and targeted violence through its network of Protective Security Advisors and resources addressing Active Shooters, School Safety, Bombing Prevention, and Soft Targets-Crowded Places.
- DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) educates and trains stakeholders on how to identify indicators of radicalization to violence, where to seek help, and the resources that are available to prevent targeted violence and terrorism. In 2021, CP3 awarded about $20 million in grants through its Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program.
- In 2021, DHS designated for the first time domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within its Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), resulting in at least $77 million being spent on preventing, preparing for, protecting against, and responding to related threats.
- In 2022, DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) provided over $250 million in funding to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements to non-profit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack.
- DHS remains focused on disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations.
- SchoolSafety.gov consolidates school safety-related resources from across the government. Through this website, the K-12 academic community can also connect with school safety officials and develop school safety plans.
Resources to Stay Safe
Stay Informed and Prepared
- Be prepared for emergency situations and remain aware of circumstances that may place you at risk. Make note of your surroundings and the nearest security personnel.
- Keep yourself safe online and maintain digital and media literacy to recognize and build resilience to false or misleading narratives.
- Review DHS resources for how to better protect businesses, houses of worship, and schools, and ensure the safety of public gatherings.
- Prepare for potential active shooter incidents, as well as efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the use of explosives.
- Learn more about community-based resources to help prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence.
- The Power of Hello Campaign helps you observe and evaluate suspicious behaviors, includes information to mitigate potential risks, and obtain help when necessary.
Report Potential Threats
- Listen to local authorities and public safety officials.
- If You See Something, Say Something® Report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online threats, to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or your local Fusion Center. Call 911 in case of emergency.
If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues or may pose a danger to themselves or others, seek help.
If You See Something, Say Something®. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.
The National Terrorism Advisory System provides Americans with alert information on homeland security threats. It is distributed by the Department of Homeland Security. More information is available at: www.dhs.gov/advisories. To receive mobile updates: twitter.com/dhsgov
If You See Something Say Something® used with permission of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Further OODA Loop Resources
- The CISA CSAC: Cognitive Infrastructure Research and Election Public Messaging: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) continues to model an operational structure with an effective public/private partnership component that yields actionable results. The latest success is the evolution of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC which meets quarterly) and its subcommittees, specifically the time-sensitive work of the Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Misinformation and Disinformation (MDM) Subcommittee. Following is the anatomy of a CSAC subcommittee, including the mission statement formulated in December 2021, followed by the subcommittee’s quarterly updates, reports, and recommendations. The case study concludes with the recently released public service announcement from the FBI and CISA – which demonstrates the value and impact of the work of the subcommittee since December 2021.
- Ongoing Efforts to Combat Information Disorder and Strengthen our Cognitive Infrastructure: Last year, OODA Network Member Congressman Will Hurd was a Commissioner for the Aspen Institute’s Information Disorder Report. Congressman Hurd will take part in a Keynote Conversation at OODAcon (which is the final event of the event to be held on Tuesday, October 18th). In the run-up to the event next week, the following is an update on some of the research and project outcomes achieved by various global efforts working to understand and combat “information disorder” and build a strong cognitive infrastructure.
- An Executive’s Guide To Cognitive Bias in Decision Making: A Career Intelligence Officer Provides Context on Fighting Bias in Judgement: Cognitive Bias and the errors in judgment they produce are seen in every aspect of human decision-making, including in the business world. Companies that have a better understanding of these cognitive biases can optimize decision-making at all levels of the organization, leading to better performance in the market. Companies that ignore the impact these biases have on corporate decision-making put themselves at unnecessary risk. This post by OODA Co-Founder Bob Gourley provides personal insights into key biases as well as mitigation strategies you can put in place right now.
- National Cognitive Infrastructure Protection: What Can We Learn from the Swedish Psychological Defence Authority? In 2019, in what now reads like a strikingly prescient premonition, OODA CTO Bob Gourley penned a two-part series on the neglect of our national Cognitive Infrastructure, which includes the mental capacities of our citizens and the decision-making ability of people, organizations, and our government. It also includes the information channels used to feed our decision-making capabilities and the education and training systems used to prepare people and organizations for critical thinking. In the series, Bob discussed the efforts by the U.S. government in the 1990s to create a framework for “Critical Infrastructure Protection” when talking about manufacturing, dams, the energy sector, nuclear reactors, etc. But what about the protection of our critical cognitive infrastructure, which is threatened in ways few of us ever imagined just a few years ago? The Swedes offer an exemplary agency model.
- “The Worst-Case Scenario is the Least Probable” and Other Cognitive Biases: Global Drought, Catastrophic Monsoons and Floods and “Zombie Ice”: Our editorial approach here at OODA Loop is an optimistic approach, based on the influence of ‘solutions-based’ journalism and a belief in the American “mission” writ large, including years of experience with deeply humble, remarkably talented people that make up American agencies, departments, and institutions. It is also part of our job, however, to position negative metrics and trends as part of our overall sensemaking on behalf of the membership – and try to achieve something resembling a stoic, balanced stance on most information we are handling at any given time. We also use scenario planning to tell the story of the future as we are seeing it – to influence risk strategies and decision-making processes for our member organizations. So, with that: Are you sitting down? Because I have some bad news, along with a mental model through which to analyze its implications.
- More research and analysis from OODA Loop on Cognitive Infrastructure.
- CISA: Shields Up!
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