A new online threat from ISIS supporters encourages jihadists to target critical infrastructure, with the suggestion of bombing power stations.
The image shows a faceless figure in a black hoodie with the Islamic State flag holding a bomb with a lit fuse with transmission towers and lines in the background. Along the power lines is the phrase “Just Terror” — the ISIS slogan for lone jihadist operations — and blood-spattered ground.
The poster directs jihadists to “make a surprise for the Crusaders.”
The infrastructure threat is uncommon in ISIS propaganda, which has focused more on knife, vehicle or gun attacks in crowded areas such as festivals or music venues. Suggested targets have ranged from well-fortified locations, such as the U.S. Capitol or UN Security Council, to soft targets with little symbolic significance.
At the end of last month, another ISIS-allied media group encouraged jihadists to “kill the infidels in ways which no one else ever used” including “electricity” among methods such as snakes, poison gas, poisoned arrows, and wild animals.
A December report from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a panel established by President Bush after the 9/11 attacks composed of industry executives along with state and local government officials, warned that “increasing threats — whether severe natural disasters, cyber-physical attacks, electromagnetic events, or some combination — present new challenges for protecting the national power grid and recovering quickly from a catastrophic power outage.”
The report also noted that America’s foes could take advantage of chaos after a natural disaster to attack energy systems. Attacks on critical infrastructure could also be a combination of cyber attack and physical attack, further complicating the response and expanding the damage.
“The United States should respond to this problem in two overarching ways: 1) design a national approach to prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic power outages that provides the federal guidance, resources, and incentives needed to take action across all levels of government and industry and down to communities and individuals; and 2) improve our understanding of how cascading failures across critical infrastructure will affect restoration and survival,” the panel said, requesting the National Security Council join with lead agencies to prepare a report on steps being taken to address the threat.
“This profound threat requires a new national focus,” stressed the NIAC.