Last week in an advisory issued by the FBI, Director Christopher Wray reported that domestic terror threats targeting Jewish and Muslim entities have surged and could correspond to an increased risk of “Lone Wolf” terror attacks. Terrorist organizations or hate-based groups may co-opt the conflict in Israel to promote their own rhetoric and call for violence against desired targets, which could increase violent attacks on targeted groups or institutions, and expand the existing risk landscape. While the advisory clarified that most of the identified threats are not credible, and there is no indication of an imminent attack in the United States, citizens should practice increased vigilance.
“Lone Wolf” terror attacks refer to attacks carried out by a lone offender without the operational involvement of terrorist organizations in initiating, planning, or executing the attack. This form of attack can overlap with violent hate crimes, and the threat type is often characterized by an element of unpredictability. The term became popular in 2015 to describe the widely marketed violence of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, which called on sympathetic lone actors to spontaneously attack civilians, or the group’s desired targets. The tactic is also characterized by its accessibility; often employing everyday items, such as knives to carry out stabbings or cars to ram into crowds. As such, detecting and preventing these attacks can be difficult due to the lack of formal planning or coordination with a terror network.
Avoid protests and demonstrations related to the conflict in Israel, especially after nightfall; allow additional travel time if you are aware of a protest near your destination. Do not engage with any protesters or individuals who seem to be participating in demonstrations.
Be aware of significant dates and holidays that may spur individuals to take commemorative action. Also be aware of related breaking news events, including instances of social media misinformation, that heighten emotions and sensitivities for lone wolf actors.
Practice enhanced situational awareness. Recognize disruptions to your baseline. Know what is normal and be prepared to act in an emergency.
Always have an exit plan, routes of exit/egress, and safe havens in mind. When using public transportation, stay awake and alert to your environment.
Always have an alternate route or means of getting home, should you be faced with a disruption. Ensure your devices are charged before leaving your home or office; it is also best practice to carry some cash on your person.
Recognize when you are in a “soft target” or high-profile target location that fits some or all of the following criteria:
Jewish facilities, such as synagogues
Demonstrations, or large crowds of people, particularly those related to Israel or Palestine
Tourist sites or historic landmarks
Hotels, bars, and restaurants
Public areas, or spaces of symbolic value (e.g., political or religious locations)
Stadiums and concert venues
Government buildings or facilities, particularly those with ties to Israel
Report any suspicious or unusual activity to a nearby law enforcement official. Follow all directives issued by the authorities.