Tuesday, April 17, 2012

NYPD Pre-Passover Intelligence Analysis

Mitchell D. Silber (Director, Intelligence Analysis, NYPD Intelligence Division)  reviewed recent New York-based plots by Al Qaeda-inspired and self-radicalized individuals, such as the May 2011 plot by Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh to detonate bombs at Manhattan synagogues and the case of Jose Pimentel, AKA Muhammad Yusuf, who was arrested last November as he constructed bombs that he intended to use against post offices and police cars in New York. Silber also discussed the roles of Hezbollah and Iran in attacks on Israeli targets overseas and provided information about a plot last month targeting synagogues in Milan, and the recent attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France in which four were killed.. View his presentation here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

NYPD Holds Annual Pre-Passover Briefing

Officials Review Recent Threats Including Shooting Attack in Toulouse, France and Implications for New York City During Meeting with Jewish Community Leaders 

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly presided Tuesday over the New York City Police Department’s pre-Passover briefing, an annual conference at which religious and community leaders are provided information on the current threat environment and implications for New York City during the upcoming religious holiday. Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass, chief chaplain of the NYPD, opened the program and was recognized for celebrating 50 years of service this month. Rabbi Kass is the longest-serving chaplain in the history of the Police Department.

NYPD Director of Intelligence Analysis Mitchell Silber said detectives were looking into the origins of an Internet posting discovered Monday, in which a composite image of New York City's skyline, landmarks and One Police Plaza - NYPD headquarters - served as background for the message, "Al Qaeda Coming Soon Again in New York," a post NYPD cyber intelligence specialists are analyzing, although no connection to an operational plot has been established.

He also reviewed recent New York-based plots by Al Qaeda-inspired and self-radicalized individuals, such as the May 2011 plot by Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh to detonate bombs at Manhattan synagogues and the case of Jose Pimentel, AKA Muhammad Yusuf, who was arrested last November as he constructed bombs that he intended to use against post offices and police cars in New York. Silber also discussed the roles of Hezbollah and Iran in attacks on Israeli targets overseas and provided information about a plot last month targeting synagogues in Milan, and the recent attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France in which four were killed.

After the shootings in Toulouse, the Police Department increased security outside houses of worship and other Jewish sites in New York City. Commissioner Kelly said that the Department sent its intelligence liaison in Paris to Toulouse, to gather first-hand information about the attack.

“Among other things, he’s learned that the shooter, Mohamed Merah, initially intended to strike a different target, but had considered the school as a target and conducted surveillance there,” Commissioner Kelly said. “While we know of no similar threat to the City at this time, such attacks are certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

“Lone wolves are extremely difficult to detect. That’s why it is essential that the Police Department continue to invest resources in gathering intelligence, which is the only effective way to stop this kind of plot.”

The NYPD will deploy additional resources including “Hercules” patrols by heavily armed officers to synagogues, Jewish neighborhoods and other potentially sensitive locations during the religious holiday. It similarly increases security around mosques and in Muslim communities during Ramadan each year.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 16th deadline for NY Nonprofit Security Grant submissions approaching

New York organizations wishing to apply for nonprofit security grants have just two weeks to submit their applications, which are due by 11:59 PM on April 16, 2012. The package must be submitted via the NY Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services E-Grant system.

For more information, links to forms and tips; visit www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gillibrand calls on feds to boost anti-terror funding for religious nonprofits

Senator Urges Greater Federal Investment to Provide Synagogues, Churches, Community Centers with Additional Resources to Protect Against the Threat of Terrorist Attacks 

After a recent terror attack that took the lives of three young children, a rabbi, and three French soldiers at a Jewish school, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today called on the federal government to boost anti-terror funding to help safeguard civil, religious and community institutions. Senator Gillibrand urged Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee leaders to designate at least $19 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) non-profit program in next year’s budget, up from this year’s $10 million funding.

Senator Gillibrand wrote in a letter to Senate leaders of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, “The horrific attack against a Jewish school in France last week is a stark reminder of the threats that such organizations continue to face here in the United States. In my own state of New York, there have been instances of attempted terror plots against Synagogues and Jewish organizations… The FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act did not include a designated funding level for nonprofit security grants, and Congress must ensure that this grant program is well funded. Therefore, I strongly urge you to restore this funding to at least the Fiscal Year 2010 level of $19 million.”

Last week, French security forces killed an Islamist extremist who murdered seven people at a synagogue in France. Authorities said 23 year-old Mohamed Merah claimed to have received training from al Qaeda.

New York City remains a top terrorist target, with NYPD on alert immediately after the French tragedy. Over the past several years, there have been instances of attempted terror plots against New York City’s synagogues and Jewish organizations. Recent reports also revealed that Iranians with links to the Iranian regime have conducted surveillance of New York City landmarks since 2005.

Senator Gillibrand has long fought for anti-terror funding to protect New York’s non-profit and religious institutions. In 2009, Senator Gillibrand secured an additional $4 million in federal anti-terror funding to help safeguard civil, religious and community institutions from terrorist attacks in the FY2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, for a total of $19 million in federal resources, funding that was continued in FY2011.

Click here for the full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NYPD analysis and response to Toulouse attack

NYPD response
Although there is no known specific threat against New York City, the NYPD has taken the precaution of stepping up coverage of Jewish neighborhoods and institutions in the city, including special attention by the NYPD Patrol Bureau to synagogues, and the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau’s assignment of the Critical Response Vehicles to Jewish institutions and neighborhoods.

Details of today's incident
At approximately 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 19, an individual riding a black scooter pulled up in front of the Ozar Hatorah School in the Jolimont area of north-east Toulouse and opened fire on an area that serves as the drop-off point for nursery- and primary-age children. A 30-year-old religious studies teacher from the school and his two sons aged three and six were killed, along with the 10-year-old daughter of the director of the school. A 17-year-old boy was left in critical condition (see the full report here).

Previous events
French officials have announced that, in addition to using a 9mm handgun, the perpetrator also used a .45 caliber handgun that has been connected to two separate attacks on French paratroopers in Toulouse and nearby Montauban on March 11 and March 15, respectively. In the March 11 attack, a lone gunman riding a “motorcycle” and wearing a helmet fatally shot a 30-year-old French paratrooper near a gymnasium. In the March 15 attack, a lone gunman on a “motorbike” opened fire on three French paratroopers who were using an automated bank machine, killing two and wounding one.Initial autopsy reports indicated that the two soldiers who were killed were shot in the head in a barrage of 13 shots, some of which were fired at point-blank range. All three soldiers were of North African and Caribbean descent, possibly suggesting the shootings were racially motivated. An alternative theory, however, holds that because the soldiers were in uniform at the time of the shooting, they were selected because they were viewed as symbols of the French military presence in Afghanistan.

Implications for New York City 
Two-wheeled motorized vehicles have been used in recent attacks against Israeli diplomatic targets in New Delhi, India and Tbilisi, Georgia. Active shooters firing from two-wheeled motorized vehicles are ideal tactics for urban terrorist attacks because the vehicles’ speed and maneuverability in congested urban areas offer the gunmen effective means of escape.

NYPD response to NY Times editorial

New York Times is Wrong: NYPD Lawfully Thwarts Terror
& Suppresses Violence

The New York Times is wrong in claiming in an editorial that the NYPD overstepped constitutional guarantees in protecting New Yorkers from violent crime and terrorism. The Times continues to ignore the fact that the NYPD operates under a judicial federal accord in protecting New Yorkers against terrorism.

The Police Department also lawfully stops and questions individuals acting suspiciously and, in doing so, has dramatically reduced murders in the city's most violent-prone neighborhoods.

In intelligence gathering, the NYPD adheres to set of federal guidelines known as the Handschu consent decree, which were approved and promulgated by a federal judge.
The guidelines recognize that the NYPD must be proactive in the investigation of terrorism. They begin with the statement of a general principle which says:
“In its effort to anticipate or prevent unlawful activity, including terrorist acts, the NYPD must, at times, initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.

“The NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public” and “to conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms… as members of the public.”

The Department is further authorized to “prepare general reports and assessments… for purposes of strategic or operational planning.”

Those who intimate that it is unlawful for the Police Department to search online or map neighborhoods have either not read, misunderstood, or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu guidelines.

Before 9/11, there were terrorist attacks in each of the decades of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, including the first attack on the World Trade Center. There have been no successful attacks in the past ten years. It’s not as if would-be terrorists aren’t trying. To the contrary, they’ve attempted to kill New Yorkers in 14 different plots, among them, two homegrown plots in 2011.

In May, the NYPD arrested Ahmed Ferhani and Mohammed Mamdouh, after Ferhani purchased firearms, ammunition, and a hand grenade from an undercover officer. Ferhani said he wanted to bomb a synagogue in Manhattan. Ferhani and Mamdouh are now in custody charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and other crimes.
In November, the NYPD stopped another homegrown plot with the arrest of Jose Pimentel at his home in Washington Heights. Pimentel had spoken openly of his plans to attack post offices, police vehicles, and returning soldiers.

An NYPD undercover officer, working the JTTF in New Jersey was also responsible
For the arrest of two Jersey residents who tried to join terrorist overseas for training with the intent, in the words of one of them, to return to the US to "commit Jihad" here.

NYPD critics also erroneously assert that the police are racially biased in making stops, ignoring the fact that we focus police resources where spikes in violent crime are the highest, and where last year 96% of shooting victims were minorities, mainly young men of color.

NYPD tactics made a difference. Last year, murders in Brooklyn North fell by 16%. That’s almost four times the citywide rate of decline. Among African-American men between the ages of 16 and 37 in neighborhoods where NYPD/ Church Coalition churches are located the decrease was even more dramatic: 33%.

The critics also ignore the NYPD's own diversity. In 2006, for the first time in our history, the rank of police officer became majority minority, with more black, Hispanic, and Asian officers than white. In December we graduated a Police Academy class of almost 1,600 officers. They came from 58 different countries and speak 62 languages. In January, we hired an equally diverse class of 900 recruits.

Terror attack at school in France

Jerusalem Post: Gunman opens fire outside Ozar Hatorah school before fleeing the scene on scooter; teacher and two of his children among dead, several wounded; Jewish official: This was an anti-Semitic attack.

JTA: A man riding a motorbike reportedly opened fire outside the Ozar Hatorah School, where students were waiting to enter the building at the start of the school day. The shooter then entered the building shooting at students and teachers. He then fled on his motorbike.

Haaretz: French prosecutor Michel Valet said Monday that those killed were a 30-year-old man and his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons. He said another child, between 8 and 10 years old, was also killed, and a 17-year-old seriously wounded.

See also Jerusalem Post"... a coalition of jihadist organizations have made a decision to attack Israeli and Jewish targets wherever they may be without distinction. "They attack whoever they can and wherever security is lax".

Initial recommendations. Reports are that the gunman opened fire on students outside the school as they began their school day and then entered the school. Students and staff are especially vulnerable during arrivals and dismissals. Try to make sure that students go to a safe area as quickly as possible.
  1. Access control. Until we know more, schools should consider asking students and staff to come inside the building rather than assembling outside. Our standard recommendation that no unauthorized person should be allowed to enter a Jewish institution (see our sample access control procedures here).
  2. Secure doors. Many organizations are thinking about their Nonprofit Security Grant applications. This tragic attack reminds us about the importance of high impact doors that can withstand an attack from a determined intruder.
  3. Lockdowns. Do you have a plan to "lockdown" your building and its occupants to keep them safe in the event on an active shooter? See the NYPD Active Shooter Guide here and a U.S. Department of Homeland Security training here.
  4. Security awareness. Although there is no indication of any threat here in New York, it is a time for heightened awareness. Trust your instincts. If you see something...say something. Terrorist acts and other attacks are often preceded by active surveillance of a target location; learn how to detect hostile surveillance before an incident occurs. See tips from our partners at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
For more information visit www.jcrcny.org/securityresources.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Training: Learn how to do your own risk assessment

Organizations wishing to do their own risk assessment for their Nonprofit Security Grant Program application should consider attending this workshop. It is good knowledge to have.

Training – Enhanced Threat and Risk Assessment Course for Faith Based Organizations – March 22-23, 2012

On March 22 and 23 (9 AM – 5 PM) at the NYC Office of Emergency Management (165 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn), the NYC Office of Emergency Management will be hosting a workshop on Enhanced Threat and Risk Assessment Course for Faith Based Organizations.  This workshop will provide attendees with the skills necessary to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the critical vulnerabilities on their facilities and develop an action plan to prevent, reduce, and/or mitigate the potential damage from a terrorism incident.  At the end of this course participants will be able to conduct a hands‐on assessment of a facility using the techniques learned in this class and produce a written report outlining the vulnerabilities of that facility.  The intended audience are members of faith based organizations charged with security for their facilities.  Please feel free to contact Training@oem.nyc.gov with any questions or comments.  To register, visit here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Security Grant Package Released-Due April 16

The FY 2012 Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) has been posted on the DHSES website and is ready for immediate action by interested eligible nonprofits.  A maximum of up to $75,000 in grant funds can be applied for.   The RFA and other required documents can be found at  http://www.dhses.ny.gov/grants/rfa-uasi-nsgp.cfm .

The due date for applications is 11:59 PM on April 16, 2012.  Any applications received after that date and time will not be considered.

Please note that only eligible nonprofits from the NYC UASI region (includes New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester) may apply. 

NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
1220 Washington Avenue
State Office Campus, Bldg. 7A
Albany, NY  12242


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nonprofit security grants: details and training

  • New York Nonprofit Homeland Security Grant application will be available next week and due mid-April 2012
  • Grant workshops & webinar scheduled for Monday, March 12, 2012
Nonprofit Security Grant Application Workshop
Monday, March 12, 2012
Join us in person in Manhattan or Westchester or via a live webinar of the workshop on your desktop computer (you will need a highspeed internet connection and speakers or earphones).
  • Manhattan: 11:30AM-1:00PM, 130 East 59th Street@Lexington Ave.
  • Westchester: 7:30-8:30 PM, Scarsdale Synagogues-Temples Tremont and Emanu-El, 2 Ogden Road, Scarsdale
  • Webinar (Sign-on instructions will be sent as reservations are received).
Note: Reservations are a must. Click here to reserve.
For further information call David Pollock at the JCRC-NY at (212) 983-4800, ext. 132 or email him here.
We would like to thank our colleagues at the New York State Office of Homeland Security and all those involved with the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) for helping us provide this important webinar.
  Overview: Nonprofit Security Grant Program FY 2012
There have been minimal changes from last year. The basics follow:

Grant amounts. Approximately 150 nonprofit organizations nationally will share the $10,000,000 allocated to this grant. Eligible applicants will be able to apply for up to $75,000 to bolster their physical security and conduct preparedness training. There is no match requirement this year.

Eligibility. Applicants must be tax exempt organizations (under IRS Section 501(c)(3)) located in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester. Unless a New York nonprofit is located within these jurisdictions it is not eligible to apply. Those located outside New York should click here to check whether they are in an eligible jurisdiction.

Equipment. The grant funds two categories of security equipment and activities: Physical Security Enhancement Equipment; and/or Inspection and Screening Systems. Any improvements requested under this program must fall within one of these equipment categories. A more detailed list can be found here.

Training. Nonprofit organization personnel may only use FY 2012 NSGP funds to attend security-related training courses and programs within the United States. Allowable training topics are limited to the protection of critical infrastructure key resources, including physical and cyber security, target hardening, and terrorism awareness/employee preparedness. Training conducted using FY 2012 NSGP funds must address a specific threat and/or vulnerability, as identified in the nonprofit’s Investment Justification.

Previous grantees/new applicants. Organizations that received grants in previous years are eligible to apply again for a FY 2012 award. However, new applicants receive a bonus point on their ranking score.

Investment Justification. The key element of the application is the Investment Justification (IJ) which can be viewed here. Applicants are required to submit their answers via an Excel spreadsheet (available when the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services releases its Request for Applications). The questions and requirements are substantially the same as in past years.

Ongoing guidance. Remember, check out the JCRC-NY's Security Grant Website often for suggestions on how to start collecting information (e.g., your vulnerability assessment, DUNS number, etc.) even before the application is released.

For further information. The Security Grant Website has a wealth of information and tips. Please check it first. If you need further information, call David Pollock at the JCRC-NY at (212) 983-4800, ext. 132 or email him here.
Caution. If you choose to download the DHS guidance here, be prepared to be confused. The "Grantee" referred to in the guidance is New York State. Our SAA is the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NY DHSES). Nonprofit organizations will have to submit applications to the NY DHSES to be evaluated, prioritized and forwarded to Washington.
Kudos to the movers and shakers. The fact that there is a FY2012 program is due to the ongoing work and incredible professionalism of a coalition, led by the Jewish Federations of North America/JFNA and its Senior Director, Legislative Affairs, Rob Goldberg (with JCRC-NY and UJA-Federation playing active roles). The JFNA Washington Office, directed by William Daroff, is the lynchpin in this process and deserves our collective thanks.

We owe a special debt of gratitude to those dedicated public servants who actually administer the grants and answer our questions, especially Shelley Wahrlich, Steve Tierney and Valerie Bloomer. This program could not be successful without their dedication, patience and expertise.