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NJ: ‘Geopolitical conflicts,’ including in Gaza, pose ‘threats’ in state in 2024 

The New Jersey state homeland security and preparedness office predicts likely cyber and other attacks against Jews and Israel in 2024.

Police Tape. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.
Police Tape. Credit: Matt Gush/Shutterstock.

Anti-Israel activists, both cyber and other criminals, are likely to target Jews and pro-Israel and pro-Jewish people and organizations in New Jersey, per a nearly 70-page “2024 Threat Assessment” published by the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

The report, which aims to identify the intentions of domestic extremists during the 2024 U.S. presidential election, devotes quite a bit of attention to the Jewish state and Israel’s war against the Hamas terror organization.

“Geopolitical conflicts and events across the globe pose various levels of threats to New Jersey in 2024,” according to the report. “These conflicts, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas conflict, have already led to targeted cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, businesses, and government entities in New Jersey and more broadly across the United States.”

Laurie Doran, director of New Jersey’s Homeland Security office, wrote in the report that the “sudden and tragic loss of life” since Oct. 7, “along with its stateside ripple effects on extremism, serves as a stark reminder that we can never be too prepared, informed or vigilant.”

The report refers to what it calls “homegrown violent extremists,” or HVEs, who “remain a high threat due to their unwavering commitment to foreign terrorist organizations which encourage them to plot attacks within the United States,” despite waning arrests.

“While the threat to the U.S. from Hamas is low, in 2024, HVEs may find inspiration from Hamas and seek to commit violence in support of its actions,” per the report.

It cites the Dec. 14 arrest in Kenya of Karrem Nasr, of Lawrenceville, N.J., who sought to join al-Shaabab in Somalia. Nasr told an undercover law enforcement agent, who he thought was helping him join the terror group, that “he had been thinking about engaging in jihad for a long time and was motivated by the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel,” per the New Jersey report.

The report also mentioned Omar Alkattoul, of Sayreville, N.J., who was arrested on Nov. 10 for threatening to attack synagogues.

“His manifesto, titled ‘When Swords Collide,’ contained hateful rhetoric aimed at the Jewish community and stated that he would target a synagogue and that ‘many more attacks like these … will come,'” per the report.

Alkattoul recorded himself supporting ISIS and its late leader, according to the report. “During his arrest, he stated that he ‘identified with the ideologies of ISIS and Al-Qaeda’ and reiterated his desire to blow up a synagogue,” the report states.

Propaganda

The report also predicts that conspiracy theorists “will spread falsehoods about antisemitism, martial law, gun confiscations, immigration policies and U.S. military intervention in Ukraine and Israel” in 2024 and that anti-fascist (Antifa) “anarchist extremists will reject both political parties and target politicians who they perceive as supporting law enforcement, border security initiatives and Israel.”

“Online supporters will utilize doxxing methods to release home addresses of political candidates, law enforcement and business owners while espousing antisemitic rhetoric and threatening Israeli supporters and Jewish communities,” it predicted. “Demonstrators will also co-opt peaceful demonstrations, political events and or challenge opposing extremist groups they consider fascists.”

New Jersey’s homeland security office also expects that what it calls “white racially motivated extremists,” or WRMEs, “will spread disinformation and alter online propaganda to focus their efforts on disrupting the presidential election.”

“Propaganda efforts will include WRMEs disparaging democracy as an external threat to the white race and suggest both presidential candidates and parties are beholden to Israel,” per the report. “Similar to WRMEs exploiting the Israel/Hamas conflict, extremists will openly advocate for violence against the Jewish community by justifying their attacks as a ‘war for existence.'”

Cyber threats

KillNet is one of “numerous” hacktivist groups that have targeted both public and private entities “in relation to both the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas conflict,” per the report. (Hacktivism refers, broadly, to cyber activism.)

“Iran poses a significant cyber threat to New Jersey as evidenced by recent indictments and global cyberattacks,” the report states. “CyberAv3ngers claimed responsibility for over a dozen cyberattacks launched since Oct. 30, 2023, stating that they targeted Unitronics as it is Israeli-made and ‘Every equipment “made in Israel” is CyberAv3ngers legal target.'”

Since Oct. 7, hacktivists groups that support Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and other Palestinian groups have launched many distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks “against entities in Israel, as well as government and private sector organizations around the world that support Israel,” per the New Jersey assessment.

“The Israel-Hamas conflict has raised concerns about cyberattacks, as both sides have engaged in cyberattacks in the past, and the potential for escalation in the cyber domain remains high,” it adds. “New Jersey, with its large Jewish and Muslim populations, is a potential target of cyberattacks linked to the conflict.”

Hacktivist groups “almost immediately after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel,” launched “cyberattacks against Israeli and Western entities in support of Hamas and Gaza,” the report stated.

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