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MSA Intel Alert: Kansas City Shootings Target Jewish Facilities

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Yesterday, multiple shootings occurred at Jewish facilities in Kansas City’s suburbs. The first took place at a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park where 70-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, opened fire with a shotgun and killed two individuals. A 14-year-old boy and his grandfather were shot and killed as they entered the parking lot of the center to audition for a singing competition. Shortly after, Miller attacked the nearby Village Shalom assisted living center in Leawood where he killed a woman in her 70s. Police apprehended Miller at a local elementary school close to both shooting incidents. He reportedly yelled “Heil Hitler” in front of local reporters before being taken into custody.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Miller founded the Carolina Knights of the Klu Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party in the 1980s. He has a long history of anti-Semitic behavior, and has posted messages on forums that call for the extermination of Jews. Additionally, Miller spent three years in prison for plotting to kill the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees.

MSA's Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:

      • The FBI is currently working with local law enforcement on the investigation, and the incident is being treated as a hate crime. 

MSA Intel Alert: 22 Injured at Stabbing at Pennsylvania High School


Yesterday morning, as students were arriving to Franklin Regional High School, 16-year-old Alex Hribal went on a stabbing spree, wounding 21 students and one adult. According to witnesses, Hribal ran  through the hallway on the first floor of the school, stabbing students with two kitchen knives, estimated to be between eight and ten inches long. He was eventually tackled by the assistant principal and handcuffed by a school security officer, who also serves in the Murrysville Police Department. The injured adult is another security guard, who was stabbed in the abdomen. During the incident, a student pulled the fire alarm to alert his peers.

Last Day of a Legacy


As has been touted for months now, Microsoft will no longer be providing security patching for its Windows XP operating system.  Since the announcement that Microsoft would end this critical support companies and individuals across the globe have been weighing the pros and cons with continuing the use of the system moving into the immediate future.  Unfortunately, for many upgrading infrastructure and software took a hit as the world economy declined into a deep recession after the 2008 financial crisis and throughout the slowest recovery of the United States economy since the 1940s.  Putting off the regular changes and upgrades every few years in an effort to keep costs down has many now faced with a very difficult business decision; do we upgrade or accept the risk a little longer?  Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

MSA Intel Alert: Active Shooter Incident at Fort Hood

Lopez 2Army specialist Ivan Lopez shot and killed three soldiers at Fort Hood yesterday afternoonbefore taking his own life. Sixteen others, all military personnel, were injured in the attack.  The incident began at around 4:00pm when Lopez entered a building and opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun. He then got into his car, fired from the car, entered another building and again opened fire. When Lopez was confronted by a military police officer in a parking lot, he shot himself in the head. Lopez, a 34-year-old working as a truck driver on the base, was dressed in combat fatigues. The shootings reportedly took place in the 1st Medical Brigade area and the 49th Transportation Battalion area. The incident lasted 15 to 20 minutes. Everyone on the base was ordered to shelter in place, and the lockdown was not lifted until around 9:00pm.Lopez had arrived at the base in February and served in Iraq for four months in a non-combat role in 2011. He was suffering from mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Lopez was not wounded in action but reportedly had a “self-diagnosed” traumatic brain injury. He was taking medication and undergoing assessment for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He recently purchased the gun from a local dealer, and it was not registered to be on the base.

MSA's Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:
      • It is unclear what the motive behind the attack was at this time. There is no indication of terrorism, but it has not yet been ruled out.  
      • There are some reports of an argument during the incident, but this is still being investigated.  
      • Personal weapons are not permitted on the army base, so Lopez carrying the gun could indicate that the attack was premeditated.  
      • However, reports of an argument could indicate that Lopez was set off by a disagreement with a fellow soldier.  
      • Due to the Lopez’s mental health history, yesterday’s shooting is again raising concerns about mental health illnesses and their link to active shooter incidents.

Additionally, this incident follows several other recent shootings at military installments on U.S. soil. Fort Hood was the site of a mass shooting on November 5, 2009 when Army Major and Psychiatrist Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32. Hasan claimed that he carried out the shooting to protect members of the Taliban from American soldiers set to deploy to Afghanistan. In September, a defense contractor and former Navy reservist shot and killed 13 people, including himself, at the Washington Navy Yard.

Regardless of motive, shootings are an increasingly viable method of attack due to their simplicity and impact in a condensed amount of time. The increased frequency of gun related violence is part of a nationwide trend that has sparked further development and coordination of security procedures. Given that this was the second active shooter situation at the base, there is likely to be a further review of security policies and potential gaps and vulnerabilities.  

MSA Security's Research and Intelligence Analysis Group provides real-time intelligence on events and worldwide threats as they evolve.

AQAP Releases 12th Edition of Inspire Magazine

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The Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released its 12th edition of the English-language magazine Inspire. This issue is titled, “Shattered, A Story About Change,” with the cover story focusing on how America’s role as a superpower has essentially been “shattered” in the post-9/11 world. Most of the past editions have included an “Open Source Jihad” section that provides detailed tactical information and instructions for jihadists to use for training purposes. This particular issue focuses on “car bombs in America,” with six pages of instructions for building a car bomb and another two pages suggesting targets. There are also several common themes in the 12th edition seen throughout publications of Inspire, including the ever-present goal of inspiring Western individuals to conduct attacks wherever they live.

MSA Intel Alert: NYC building Explosion & Collapse

624450cf02b73f0a4e0f6a70670068efTwo buildings collapsed around 9:30am after an explosion at the northwest corner of 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem (1646 Park Avenue and 1644 Park Avenue). According to city officials, the buildings have been completely destroyed. At least one person has been killed and 11 people injured in the incident. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.  
The New York Fire Department confirmed the explosion involves multiple buildings. There are currently 39 units and 168 members responding to the five-alarm fire.  
At this time, Metro-North service has been temporarily suspended out of Grand Central due to debris on the tracks.  
See below for current traffic conditions in the immediate vicinity (per 511NY) due to law enforcement activity:
  • Park Avenue is closed in both directions between E 110th Street and E 125th Street until further notice.
  • 116th Street is closed in both directions between 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue until further notice.
  • 117th Street is closed in both directions between 3rd Avenue and Madison Avenue until further notice.
  • 115th Street is closed in both directions between 3rd Avenue and Madison Avenue until further notice.

The MSA Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation, and will continue to provide real-time intelligence on events and worldwide threats as they evolve.


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MSA Intel Alert: Yik Yak Mobile App Prompts Security Concerns

yikyakA relatively new mobile social media application, Yik Yak, is prompting security concerns as teen users have been utilizing the anonymous platform to post various threats. Yik Yak is an app similar to Twitter, except its posts are anonymous and location based, meaning they can only be seen by other users within a 10 mile radius. Additionally, the posts only stay up for a limited amount of time before they disappear completely. The app was apparently made for “college-age students and above,” and it requires users to be at least 17 years old to download the service to their smartphones. However, middle school and high school students have been using the app to post bomb threats or cyber bullying messages. The app has prompted schools across the country to evacuate its students or issue lockdowns due to bomb threats and has now been disabled in the Chicago area:
      • March 6, Chicago, IL: Four Chicago area high schools issued warnings to parents about Yik Yak over the past two weeks, with school officials urging parents to remove the app from their children’s phones. In response, Yik Yak’s co-founder stated the app would be disabled in the Chicago area.
      • March 6, San Clemente, CA: A bomb threat posted to Yik Yak prompted a shelter in place at San Clemente High School. The local bomb squad searched the school until the situation was deemed safe.
      • March 4, Marblehead, MA: Marblehead High School evacuated its students at 10:55am after school officials received information of a bomb threat posted to Yik Yak. The school was cleared and reopened by 12:15pm, but a second threat was received at 1:30pm and the school was evacuated again.
      • January 31, Montrose and Olathe, CO: Montrose High School, Olathe High School and middle schools within the Montrose/Olathe district were forced to shelter in place after a bomb threat was posted to Yik Yak. The message reportedly stated, “I have a pipe bomb and I’m going to set it off during passing period 1053-1030 today.”
MSA's Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:

As a result of the Yik Yak app, there has been a growing trend in bomb threats targeting middle schools and high schools, which has led to evacuations, lockdowns and a “drain on public safety resources.” Due to the anonymity associated with the app, it is difficult to identify the source of the threat and hold the perpetrator accountable, making it an attractive forum for young people who may want to disrupt the school day. Out of an abundance of caution, schools and police continue to take the threats seriously, even though none have been credible thus far. At this time, there does not seem to be any indication that threats posted to Yik Yak will target businesses or corporations as the app seems to have a young user base. However, security personnel should be mindful of how threats can evolve through social media applications and networks. Social media monitoring can be a useful tool to identify or mitigate against potential threats.

MSA Security's Research and Intelligence Analysis Group provides real-time intelligence on events and worldwide threats as they evolve.

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An Ounce of Prevention

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When are flood insurance sales the highest? Immediately after a flood.
When are earthquake insurance sale the highest? Immediately after an earthquake. The moments following a flood or an earthquake are actually the times when the probability of these events occurring is at its lowest, but also the time when people tend to take the most action to prevent their potentially devastating consequences. This can also be seen outside the context of natural disasters.

Have you heard of a tragic event at a school only to have the authorities search cyberspace afterwards to find indicators of maltreatment or cries for help? Unfortunately, these cases are getting more and more public attention. Take the seventh grader from Arkansas or the Florida teen who committed suicide after being teased at school and cyber bullied. These are examples of statistically low probability events with extremely grave impacts. It is the grave impact of these events that points toward a need for risk mitigation.

MSA Intel Alert: British Jihadists Release Inspirational Propaganda

syria blog 1According to media reports, British jihadists in Syria have threatened to wage attacks in the United Kingdom (UK) and U.S. Rayat Al-Tawheed, a British jihadist faction in Syria, recently posted images on a series of social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, in which armed jihadists are depicted at various Western locations. Through the postings, extremists have allegedly warned of atrocities on London’s public transportation and financial centers, in addition to the White House in the U.S. The pictures feature texts in the English language that seem more directed at inspiring others to join their radical cause rather than indicating fighters will return home from Syria to carry out attacks.

UK officials report that there are several hundred Britons fighting alongside rebels in Syria. This has raised significant concern in the UK that fighters will carry out attacks once they return home. British counter-terrorism officials are taking the threats of attacks “very seriously.” However, in this particular case, it appears that Rayat Al-Tawheed released these images for inspirational purposes aimed at ideologically aligned individuals living in the West. Rayat Al-Tawheed is allegedly led by two male Islamists from London. Two brothers from North London, Akram and Mohamed Sebah, were killed last month while fighting in Syria, and were likely members of this group. Additionally Rayat Al-Tawheed boasts about receiving financial support from individuals based in the UK, in the form of British pounds.

Key Points
      • It appears that the majority of the pictures are designed to inspire individual jihad. Most of the images feature a lone gunman armed with some type of firearm, indicating small arms are a preferred tactic for attacks. Additionally, the pictures include iconic targets such as a red London Routemaster bus and the White House. This highlights how jihadists in Syria may be attempting to inspire Western jihadists to conduct attacks wherever they live.
      • This form of propaganda is similar to several messages released by al Qaeda and affiliated groups in the English-language. For example, al Qaeda’s American-born Adam Gadahn released a statement in 2011 titled, “Do Not Rely on Others, Take the Task Upon Yourself.” He says, “The enemies interests are spread all over the place and are easily accessible,” and encourages jihadists in the West to obtain guns to carry out these attacks, claiming they are easy to obtain. The theme of individual jihad is also the main focus of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) English-language Inspire magazine. Additionally, in most of the 11 issues of the propaganda tool, AQAP demonstrates how to use an AK-47 rifle as well as a handgun. The most recent editions of the publication contain many images of small arms.

MSA's Research and Intelligence Analysis (RIA) Group has been monitoring this situation closely and has identified the following implications:

      • The warnings appear to be the first threats of terror strikes in the West to emerge from Syria. 
      • In response to an article featured in Daily Mail regarding the new images, Rayat Al-Tawheed stated on its Facebook and Tumblr accounts, “The Media are at it again, when will they realize that we don’t wanna come back?” The statement signals that the images were released mainly to inspire individuals to conduct attacks in their home countries, the UK in particular. In recent years, as Western countries have been targeting terrorists overseas, there has been more of a focus by al Qaeda-linked groups to reach out to English-language speakers to radicalize individuals and inspire attacks. 
      • The pictures released by Rayat Al-Tawheed are easily accessible online as their social media sites are public. Online propaganda tools are an effective method of recruitment and motivation, fueling the homegrown threat. 
      • Individuals are able to train online, rather than risk suspicious travel abroad. 
      • These types of publications, such as Inspire, have been successful in launching terrorist operations in the West. 
      • For example, the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013 could be accredited to two issues of Inspire as the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly utilized bomb-making instructions from the magazine. 

MSA Security's Research and Intelligence Analysis Group provides real-time intelligence on events and worldwide threats as they evolve.

In Memoriam: Pittsburgh Police Canine, Rocco

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Pittsburgh Police Department's eight-year-old German Shepherd, Rocco was wounded Tuesday night while assisting officers during the arrest of an armed suspect. After undergoing two surgeries and several blood transfusions, Rocco made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. 

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