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Global Terrorism Intelligence Briefing

This edition of the Global Terrorism Intelligence Briefing features an overview of how individuals associated with the Islamic State (ISIS) are utilizing graphics to threaten the United States. 

Continued Use of Graphics to Threaten the U.S.

As indicated in previous Terrorism Intelligence Briefings, multiple foreign terror organizations (FTOs) and their respective followers continue to demonstrate an interest in inciting or conducting attacks within the United States.  In the past, groups such as al Qaida or the Islamic State (ISIS) predominately used digital publications like Inspire and Rumiyah, or audio recordings of prominent jihadists, to incite these type of attacks.

More recently, however, we’ve seen a shift towards the use of short statements or graphics (akin to one PowerPoint slide) to motivate their respective followers into action.

For example, one graphic released in late 2018 depicted an image of the New York City skyline, and contained a seemingly blood-spattered message which reads in part “New York 1/1/2019.”

ISIS Graphic Threatening New York

In mid-February 2019, a similar graphic to the one described above, though focused on Los Angeles, began to circulate on the Internet.  This graphic depicted an apparent ISIS fighter standing in front of the L.A. skyline holding an ISIS flag.  The graphic also shows a photo-shopped explosion atop the Aon Center, a 62-story office tower on Wilshire Blvd.  The words above the image read: “Our promise will soon be fulfilled.”

Portion of a graphic which depicts the L.A. Skyline

Homegrown Violent Extremists

While graphics of this type are routinely created by pro-ISIS elements, they are rarely directly responsible for inspiring a homegrown violent extremist (HVE) to conduct an attack.  Rather, the primary objective of this type of communication is to cause fear and anxiety amongst the general populace, with likely, occurred to some degree in this instance given that most Los Angeles-based media outlets reported on the L.A. skyline graphic.

With the above said, an attack by an HVE within the United States cannot be dismissed.  In particular, since, no security service, regardless of their effectiveness, will be able to identify or disrupt all attacks, and particularly those who use simple tactics, and do not widely communicate their plans in advance.  This is evidenced by the October 2017 attack in New York City, where the perpetrator used a rented truck from Home Depot to ram multiple pedestrians and bicyclists.

Truck used in October 2017 attack in New York City (CNN)

Recommendations for Security Professionals

Given the above, we encourage security professionals to maintain a high level of vigilance, and particularly when providing protective coverage at public events, commercial locations, or any other location which could be considered a “soft target.”

We also recommend staying abreast of current events by following multiple news sources.  Security professionals are also advised to be cognizant of situations and individuals who seem out of place or unusual relative to the surroundings.

GDBA’s Global Intelligence Operations Division provides security operations, intelligence analysis, and risk mitigation services to some of the world’s most influential enterprises. Our embedded analysts integrate seamlessly into the institution’s business operations while drawing on GDBA’s global resources and subject-matter experts.


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