Wednesday, December 16, 2015

DHS Publishes First NTAS Bulletin

Today DHS published their first terrorism bulletin under the National Terrorism Advisory System. In addition to providing information about the current “new phase in the global threat environment” this bulletin marks the addition of ‘Bulletins’ to the two levels of alerts (Elevated and Imminent) in the NTAS that replaced the old 9-11 based color coded alert system.

Today’s bulletin (that expires on June 16th, 2016) addresses “the rise in use by terrorist groups of  the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the ‘self-radicalized’ actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice”. The bulletin is based in large part on data that has emerged from the investigations of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

The bulletin outlines four ‘details’ about the current threat:

• Though we know of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland, the reality is terrorist-inspired individuals have conducted, or attempted to conduct, attacks in the United States this year.
• DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places.
• As we saw in the recent attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.
• In the current environment, DHS is also concerned about threats and violence directed at particular communities and individuals across the country, based on perceived religion, ethnicity, or nationality.

The bulletin also outlines actions that DHS and the law enforcement community are taking to address the threat outlined in the bulletin. There are also specific recommendations to individuals about the part that they play in reducing the risk from the current threat. These recommendations are broken down into three categories:

• How you can help;
• Be prepared; and
• Stay informed.

The addition of bulletins to the previous alerts in the NTAS is part of the modernization effort that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson promised earlier this month. Those earlier reports sounded like there would be a new system to replace the never used NTAS. Instead, it looks like the Department has decided to upgrade NTAS instead of effecting a wholesale replacement.

NOTE: Long time readers of my blog will note a difference today in the DHS provided NTAS widget on my blog. It now lists ‘Bulletin’ and provides a link to today’s newly released bulletin. It will be interesting to see if that listing on the widget will remain there through June 16th. If so, it will do little good if a new bulletin is released in the meantime. I hope that DHS has thought that through. Perhaps they may want to revise that widget to also show the date of the most current bulletin or alert.

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