Islamic State is intensifying online threats against New York City and the NYPD, disseminating bloody images of officers and menacing messages in subways, counterterrorism officials said this week.
Citing the anti-terror officials, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) observed Wednesday:
The rise in violent messages, which officials say are circulated online and intended to inspire and instruct potential terrorists, has persisted since it was first detected in July. Officials said the increase doesn’t represent an immediate threat to public safety and isn’t linked to Wednesday’s 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“What we’ve seen lately, is an unusual amount of propaganda directed at attacks on U.S. soil and an unusual amount of that pointing to New York as a target,” John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, told the WSJ.
Besides encouraging attacks on soft targets such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade and public transit systems, officials have discovered more ISIS propaganda calling for violence against police.
Two posters targeting NYPD were reported on a pro-Islamic State channel on the Telegram messaging app on Aug. 19, both of which displayed a blood drip-style font reading “Pigs! You will Soon Pay For Your Crimes.”
One of the posters showed an image of an active NYPD officer. The officer was unharmed and was unaware the image had been used, officials said.
ISIS lost its territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria in March, but the group remains a threat with tens of thousands of fighters and a residual wealth of about $300 million.
The jihadi organization’s loss of territory and manpower has prompted the small number of remaining jihadis to boost the group’s propaganda, Miller told the Journal.
“It is down to a very few people on a very small patch of real estate, and it is trying to survive as an organization and as a voice,” Mr. Miller said.
Miller acknowledged that authorities had degraded ISIS’s ability to carry out high-profile attacks. However, that has driven the group to reach out to local Islamic terrorists with propaganda aimed at inspiring them to carry out lone-wolf attacks in their communities.
Referring to ISIS, Miller told WSJ:
They haven’t lost the technical ability to create new material, fresh propaganda and increase the volume on their calls for lone wolves to attack. If one or two of these people decide to act on it, for ISIS, that is a win.
NYPD sees spike in #ISIS-linked propaganda aimed at NYC. As I’m quoted in @ChapmanReports' piece, NYC is symbolic of US & is most frequently referenced city in ISIS-linked content. Thus, propaganda featuring NYC doesn't only threaten NYC, but also America.https://t.co/8WNAcLgZ0t pic.twitter.com/G7DFI6yVOa
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) September 12, 2019
ISIS remains intent on targeting New York City because it “embodies American culture,” Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligence Group, told the Journal.