WASHINGTON — The bloody journal found on New York and New Jersey bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami was displayed at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, showing his path to radicalization that included praise for Osama bin Laden and slain al-Qaida spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who called on their ISIS followers in the West to kill in their own countries.
Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul held up a copy of a blood-soaked page from the journal, in which Rahami allegedly wrote “Gunshots to your police, death to your oppression.” McCaul said Rahani allegedly wrote about his guidance coming from Al-Adnani in the notebook, which reveals the “new threat we’re facing.”
“We’re going to see the battleground come more to the United States,” he said.
Testifying before the committee, John Miller, the New York Police Department Deputy commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrrorism, emphasized the need to counter this ISIS recruitment method with engagement between the police and its community.
The hearing played clips put together by the NYPD of ISIS propaganda videos that showed young followers pledging allegiance to ISIS. Miller said it was important to show these videos to community partners, which they have done with Muslim community partners, to “expose the type of clever messaging and powerful propaganda that some of their young people might be susceptible to.”
While it is still unclear whether Rahami acted alone, there is an increase of people acting alone, mainly those who are”living in margin, have low self esteem, or are isolated,”Miller said. And as it is more difficult to predict “lone wolf” situations, reliance on citizens for information has become increasingly important in order to stop or or respond to the terror attack, officials said.
Miller said smartphones played a big role in the unfolding of events this weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey. A cellphone alert to millions of phones across New York City asking people to report any clues about the suspect was among the new social tactics used by law enforcement. According to Miller, law enforcement used every element of social tools that made it possible to push information, photos and videos out to police as well as to the public.
“As we saw this week, having 1,500 people that work full time on counterterrorism can quickly be changed to 36,000 in the street,” Miller said.
Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. and Peter King, R-N.Y., expressed concerns that this approach could lead to increased profiling in communities.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who also testified on Wednesday, emphasized to the committee the key function public reporting served in finding the explosive devices in New Jersey and identifying the suspect. The best defense against the lone wolf is curbing marginalization in society, and efforts to build partnerships, especially in Muslim communities, need to be improved, according to Acevedo.
“You can’t profile a community that you also count on to help us in investigations with,” Miller said.