Threat level increases

After Jersey City attack, state increases threat level of black separatist extremists

State police responding to the Jersey City mass shooting on Dec. 10.
State police responding to the Jersey City mass shooting on Dec. 10.

New Jersey has released its annual “Terrorism Threat Assessment” report, raising the threat level from black separatist extremists from “low” in 2019 to “moderate” in 2020 following the Dec. 10 mass shooting that left four people dead in an anti-Semitic domestic terrorist attack in Jersey City.

The report was issued by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which is tasked with coordinating counter-terrorism, resiliency, and cyber security efforts across all levels of government, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector.

It was created by executive order in 2006 when the Office of Counter-terrorism (OCT) merged with the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force (DSPTF).

This year’s report was released after the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office released footage from the body cams of police officers involved in the Dec. 10 shooting in which officers can be seen firing at the perpetrators from the Catholic school across the street.

Black separatist extremisim 

Director of NJOHSP Jared Maples labeled David Anderson and Francine Graham as “black separatist extremists” in the report.

Anderson and Graham fatally shot three people at the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey shortly after killing Police Detective Joseph Seals at a nearby cemetery. The pair engaged in an hours-long shootout with responding officers, injuring two, before being killed.

Both Anderson and Graham expressed anti-Semitic and anti-law enforcement views prior to committing the attack, according to the FBI, which is investigating the attack.

“A review of Anderson’s social media activity highlighted direct threats toward these groups and support for the Black Hebrew Israelite ideology,” states the report. “This ideology asserts that black people are the true descendants of the Israelites and that the white and Jewish communities are the enemy, as well as law enforcement.”

The report further states that after the attack, an unnamed neo-Nazi group celebrated the attack online and called for more violence against Jewish Americans and law enforcement.

“The group praised Anderson and Graham as ‘non-white heroes,’ along with previous minority attackers,” states the report.

These responses came during and after the incident, highlighting how race-based attacks are likely to inspire like-minded individuals to commit further acts of violence, according to NJOHSP.

According to the report, within New Jersey, the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ (ICGJC) are the most active black extremist groups.

The report further states that groups operating in New Jersey are unlikely to plot or conduct attacks despite espousing hate, due to disorganization and lack of consistent leadership.

The New Jersey NBPP last organized a rally in 2011, when it protested a National Socialist Movement gathering outside the State House in Trenton.

According to the report, the ICGJC is not known for violence, but some members participate in criminal activity, particularly financial crimes they believe are ordained by God to help members survive in a world dominated by white people.

White supremacist threats increase

The report further increases the threat level of white supremacist groups from moderate to high along with homegrown violent extremists as the “most persistent violent actors in New Jersey” making them a larger threat than either ISIS or Al-Qaida which the report places at a low threat level

“White supremacist extremists will pose a high threat to New Jersey in 2020 as supporters of this ideology demonstrate their willingness and capability to carry out attacks, direct and inspire sympathizers online, and attempt to network globally,” according to the report.

Since January 2019, there have been 168 reported instances of white supremacist propaganda distribution, an increase from the reported 46 instances in 2018.

Primarily this distribution has been in the form of flyers placed in public venues and college campuses across the state.

In 2019, white supremacist extremists carried out four attacks and participated in at least 19 additional plots, threats of violence, and instances of weapons stockpiling. One such incident is the Aug. 3 attack in El Paso in which New Jersey resident Patrick Crusius shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a retail store.

Police arrested Crusius shortly after the shooting and charged him with capital murder.

Prior to the shooting, he posted a manifesto online with white supremacist extremist and anti-immigrant viewpoints.

While six homegrown violent extremists were arrested in New Jersey or New York last year, the report states “there are no credible threats” in NJ currently.

Despite the threats, Maples said he believes the department is prepared.

“The ever-changing threat landscape in New Jersey and around the country requires us to adjust our strategies to anticipate new threats while remaining ready to combat those already existing,” he said. “We will continue to develop and share the latest intelligence alongside our partners to support counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, and preparedness efforts throughout the state.”

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