2016 The “Year of Terror”: January Terror Threat Snapshot

The new Terror Threat Snapshot, a monthly assessment by the Homeland Security Committee, was recently released and “encapsulates” various terror-related threats against the West for 2016. As mentioned in prior snapshots, the terror threat environment worsened in 2016 with Jihadist groups continually directing and inspiring acts of terror worldwide.

Chairman Michael McCaul, head of the Homeland Security Committee, stated “This year terror struck all corners of the globe, and the jihadist rallying cry was heard during attacks even in our own communities. What is clearer than ever is that Islamist terror has been franchised to thousands of followers.” The stats in this month’s analysis back up Chairman McCaul’s statement. Coinciding with these statistics are further highlights from the “Snapshot”:

  • The terror threat environment worsened in 2016. Jihadist groups continued to successfully direct and inspire acts of terror worldwide, even as law enforcement stepped up efforts to thwart attackers.
  • Overall terror activity in the West spiked in 2016. For instance, ISIS plots against Western countries and their interests totaled 74, a figure greater than 2015 and 2014 combined. The United States remains the group’s most targeted country. Additionally, at least 37 ISIS suspects were arrested in 18 U.S. States.
  • December’s truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market and the New Year shooting at a popular Istanbul nightclub are proof that ISIS followers are heeding calls to strike wherever they are, using any means necessary. The group’s messages have far-reaching influence, inspiring followers to carry out independent attacks or to engage hardened jihadists for direction and assistance.
  • While efforts to expel ISIS from their so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq continue, the group is proving more malleable and unpredictable than expected. In December, ISIS regained control of Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra and showed resilience on other fronts.
  • Other Islamist terror groups, especially al Qaeda, maintained and in some cases expanded their influence in 2016 and continue plotting attacks against Western interests.

Chairman McCaul believes that “our New Year’s resolution must be to go on the offensive.” If you agree, then the Domestic Terrorism: Jihadist/Islamist section of the HSDL’s Featured Topics list is a perfect place to start. As new policies are implemented in 2017, being informed on key issues is imperative. (Some resources require HSDL login)