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The Lowlights: Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities.
Virginia's network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers.
In addition to reviewing information directly reported to the VFC, surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement agencies to determine the extent of terrorism activities throughout the state. Information of interest included not only event-specific data, but also suspicious traffic stops or activities consistent with pre-operational attack planning. Assessments of the overall threat posed by specific terror and extremist groups or movements were completed utilizing the Project SLEIPNIR: Revised Long Matrix for Criminal Extremism utilized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
OVERVIEW OF TERRORIST AND EXTREMIST DATA IN VIRGINIA
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM THREAT
Jama'at ul Fuqra
DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT
Black Separatist Extremists
Homegrown Islamic Extremism
Lone Wolf Extremists
Special Interest Extremism
White Nationalist Extremism
The purpose of the 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment is to convey potential terrorism threats affecting the Commonwealth of Virginia. Terrorism, for the purpose of this report, is defined as politically motivated violence or threat of violence designed to coerce action or to prevent others from taking intended actions. While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are currently planning attacks in Virginia, the presence of extremists, evidence of trends linked to terrorism, and the abundance of potential targets, suggests that the potential for Virginia to be targeted remains significant.
As with previous years, the threat from terrorist and extremist groups can be categorized as international or domestic threats. Each of these groups holds particular values and political goals and thus represents a different type of threat to Virginia and the U.S. The international terrorism threat to Virginia and the nation as a whole stems from several radical Islamic militant groups. The domestic terrorist threat is comprised of a wide variety of groups, to include special interest groups, anarchists, race-based groups, including black separatists and white supremacists, militias and sovereign citizens, and homegrown extremists.
In Virginia, identified activities have been limited primarily to non-violent acts and crimes committed to raise funds to finance group activities. Some activities also relate to criminal endeavors generally used by extremists to further operational planning. The Virginia Fusion Center monitors international, national, and regional trends relating to terrorism and criminal extremism for indicators of emerging activity in the Commonwealth. Terrorism trends of greatest concern in 2009 include terrorism tradecraft, recruitment, and radicalization, terrorist use of technology, and terrorism financing.
As terrorists adapt and evolve to offset existing counterterrorism measures, they have successfully exploited available technology and modified their tactics to ensure successful operations. While several of the trends noted are applicable to all terrorist and extremist groups, increasing linkages are noted to specific critical infrastructure and key resources. As such, this product highlights, where possible, connections noted between groups, their behaviors, and potentially targeted infrastructure.
Based on the information gathered, the Commonwealth of Virginia could be potentially targeted for terrorist attack due to its location and proximity to Washington, D.C., its concentration of critical infrastructure, and the amount of extremist activity documented in Virginia. In order to detect and deter terrorist attacks, it is essential that information regarding suspected terrorists and suspicious activity in Virginia be closely monitored and reported in a timely manner. Additionally, it remains important to determine the extent of existing trends and to collect, analyze, and disseminate this information to law enforcement partners in Virginia.