December Terror Threat Snapshot: Vigilance For The Holidays
By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security
Each month, the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee releases its Terror Threat Snapshot – authored by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
The current report’s release coincided with another deadly attack at a Christmas market in Europe, and as we approach the holiday season in the United States, it is vital that we stay focused on deterring any possible attacks here at home.
“In the midst of the holiday season, we must remain even more vigilant as jihadists remain intent on spreading fear and terror during this time of year,” Rep. McCaul exclusively told In Homeland Security. “We are solemnly reminded of the heinous attack at a Christmas market in Berlin only two years ago – and just this week, a radicalized gunman opened fire in Strasbourg at one of France’s oldest Christmas markets and at the seat of the European Parliament.”
The perpetrator in this most recent attack, Cherif Chekatt, fled the scene, but was tracked down and killed yesterday by French law enforcement officials.
Rep. McCaul exclusively told In Homeland Security about the measures needed to combat future terror-related incidents in the United States:
“Thousands of individuals are suspected of posing a security risk to France and are believed to have been radicalized, highlighting the challenge facing French law enforcement and the continued threat posed by the terrorist diaspora,” stated Rep. McCaul. “We must strengthen our security to prevent more people from being radicalized and do all we can to thwart potential attacks, including increasing counterterrorism information-sharing with our European partners.”
Related article from In Homeland Security: Creating an Effective Strategy to Combat Terrorism
According to the December Terror Threat Snapshot, there were 251 ISIS-linked incidents in 18 European countries since 2013 – with France topping that list with 63 cases.
December Terror Threat Snapshot: Recent US Terror Cases
Each month, the snapshot lists key terror-related developments in the United States. This month, that list includes some troubling cases:
- On Nov. 1, Dias Muratovich Kadyrbayev, 24, a Kazakhstani national, was deported by ICE following his release from prison for the role he played in the 2013 Boston Bombings. Kadyrbayev was charged with obstruction of justice for removing and disposing of incriminatory items from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college dorm room.
- On Nov. 2, 20-year-old Tnuza Jamal Hassan was ruled fit to stand trial for her alleged attempt to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization – along with an arson charge. Hassan allegedly started numerous fires on the campus of St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minn., and she is also charged with writing a letter to encourage some of her fellow Muslims to join global terror organizations including al Qaeda.
- On Nov. 6, Akayed Ullah, 28, a Bangladeshi citizen with a U.S. Permanent Residence Card living in Brooklyn, N.Y., was convicted of detonating an IED at New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal on behalf of ISIS. Sentencing is scheduled for April 5, 2019, and he faces life in prison.
- On Nov. 13, Amor M. Ftouhi, 51, of Quebec, Canada, (who attacked a police officer in 2017 at an airport in Flint, Mich.), was found guilty of three separate charges, including terrorism transcending national boundaries.
- On Nov. 14, Adam Raishani, 32, of the Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty to attempting to provide, and conspiring to provide, material support to ISIS. Raishani helped a man travel to join the terrorist group in 2015, and he attempted to do the same two years later. Raishani now faces up to 25 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for March 8, 2019.
- On Nov. 26, 27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz, of Brentwood, N.Y., pleaded guilty to providing material support to ISIS. Shahnaz now faces up to 20 years in prison for fraud after reportedly wiring $150,000 to ISIS. She also intended to travel to Syria in order to join ISIS.
The recent cases above are just a few of 161 homegrown Jihadist cases in 30 states since 2013.
Winning the Battle Against Terror Groups
The December Terror Threat Snapshot also highlights the progress made in fighting against Islamist terror groups including the sentencing of 65 suspected ISIS members in Egypt. The group was intending to start a cell in southern Egypt, and members now face sentences ranging from five years to life in prison.
Also noted in the snapshot was the killing of at least 30 al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali – possibly including the group’s leader. French forces used manned and unmanned airstrikes – along with helicopter and ground forces – to take out the militant group.
You can view the entire December Terror Threat Snapshot here.
Stay tuned to In Homeland Security for a report on January’s Terror Threat Snapshot from the House Homeland Security Committee.