Counterterrorism Experts Warn Police to be on Alert for Ambush Attacks

Analysts warn police officers and emergency services personnel remain key targets for terrorists, who may either seek to lure public safety officers into ambushes, or stage ambush attacks without significant advanced planning.
Analysts warn police officers and emergency services personnel remain key targets for terrorists, who may either seek to lure public safety officers into ambushes, or stage ambush attacks without significant advanced planning.

January 15, 2020 – In Breaking News – CNN

Federal counterterrorism officials are warning police departments across the country to maintain a heightened state of awareness for the potential for ambush-style attacks against officers.

In a new intelligence report viewed by CNN, entitled “PERSISTENT THREAT OF TERRORIST AMBUSH ATTACKS ON FIRST RESPONDERS,” analysts from the National Counterterrorism Center warn that police officers and emergency services personnel remain key targets for terrorists, who may either seek to lure public safety officers into ambushes, or stage ambush attacks without significant advanced planning.

(In the late evening of January 7, 2016, in a sudden attack with no precipitating event, Edward Archer rushed towards and shot Philadelphia police officer Jesse Hartnett while he drove his patrol car, inserting the gun into the window of the car and firing at point blank range. Despite being shot multiple times in the left arm, Hartnett was able to exit his car and shoot the fleeing suspect, Edward Archer. Later in the hospital, Archer claimed he pledged allegiance to ISIS. The FBI investigated the shooting as a terrorist attack. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 8, 2016.)

“Due to their high visibility and 24/7 accessibility, on-duty first responders are susceptible to becoming victims of ambush attacks,” states the report issued this week.

The intelligence report states that the appeal of ambush-style attacks for terrorists “likely stems from the nature of the target, the attack concealment, and the element of surprise.”

It also indicates “the suddenness of an ambush attack may limit reaction and response by first responders, potentially providing the attacker with a tactical advantage.”

(See a short overview of the National Counterterrorism Center’s mission and responsibilities in the fight against terrorism, a rare peek inside our state-of-the-art Operations Center, and insights into how the Intelligence Community and Law Enforcement work together to protect our country from the threat of terrorism. Courtesy of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and YouTube.)

Citing FBI data, the report indicates that 53 US law enforcement officers were the victims of ambush-style attacks by both terrorist and non-terrorist suspects between 2014 and 2018.

In the report, officials outline incidents of unsuspecting police officers ambushed by assailants.

For example, the report highlights a 2016 shooting of a Philadelphia police officer sitting in his patrol car by a suspect who had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Analysts also reference a 2017 attack on a police officer at a Michigan airport by a suspect who “shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is great) and blamed the United States for deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria” before stabbing the unsuspecting officer.

(The suspect, Amor Ftouhi, remains in custody after allegedly ambushing police Lt. Jeff Neville at Bishop International Airport in Flint. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Jun 22, 2017.)

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