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FB-ISAO: Five Years Strong

Happy Anniversary to the Faith-Based Information Sharing and Analysis Organization. 18 April 2023, marks five years of serving the community of faith with information, analysis, and capabilities to help reduce risk while enhancing preparedness, security, and resilience across all-faiths and all-hazards. Our members include Houses of Worship, Charities, Faith-Based Schools, and their affiliated organizations. We are five years strong!

On our 5-year anniversary, it is befitting to acknowledge, and to thank, our members for their tireless efforts to support one another – the FB-ISAO community is centered on a teach and learn approach. Our members are supported by our many partners on the federal, state, and local level who also participate in collaborating to build a strong and resilient community. Our Board of Advisors has been steadfast in their support of our work. And thanks to our Board of Directors who volunteer their time to provide strategic direction and oversight of general business operations which includes fiscal oversight.

During the past five years, hostile events continued to affect faith-based organizations and charities. By far, the most prevalent of these hostile events have been in the form of violence and low-tech terrorism such as fall-out from protests and the repercussions of the Dobbs ruling in June of 2022.

Tragically, there have been numerous other notable hostile incidents since the inception of FB-ISAO and those include:

The community has had to also contend with the increasing threats that come from the cyber realm. Some of those incidents include:

As well as numerous incidents of online harassment such as “zoom bombing,” impersonation scams, and various other threats and incidents.

Though physical and cyber incidents are highlighted above, FB-ISAO analysts and members monitor, report on, and share information related to all-hazards including weather and climate hazards as well as public health. In May of 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the Operational Resilience Group developed and published the ‘Pandemic Reopening & Reentry Checklist for Faith-Based Organizations’ which is a checklist designed to provide guidance and assistance to faith-based organizations as they prepare to reopen their religious facilities and houses of worship in the aftermath of the public health emergency.

The community of faith is vast – to reach this vulnerable sector we all have to do the hard work of outreach and networking – the community, as a whole work must work together to reach the 350,000 faith-based organizations that are scattered across the nation. In addition, each organization is unique as congregation sizes differ, yet most faith-based organizations share some of the same challenges when it comes to preparedness. The FB-ISAO continues to perform outreach by engaging the community by providing briefings. Notably, Mayya Saab, Executive Director of the FB-ISAO serves as a member of the DHS Faith-Based Security Advisory Council (FBSAC.) The FBSAC provides organizationally independent, strategic, timely, specific and actionable advice to the Secretary through the Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement who also serves as the DHS Faith-Based Organization Security Coordinator. The FBSAC provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary and other senior leadership on matters related to protecting houses of worship, preparedness, and enhanced coordination with the faith community.

In addition to the contributions for our wonderful members and supportive partners, the FB-ISAO has responded to the threat environment in multiple ways:

  • Written over 500 analytical reports to help the community understand the threats and learn how to protect against them
  • Issued over 1000 daily reports of open-source intelligence data that enumerate the threat landscape
  • Issued multiple threat level statements aimed at keeping the faith-based community aware of the current and changing threat landscape
  • Disseminated information on direct and indirect threats to the community as warranted

To keep our members engaged with one another, our collaborative workspace provides an opportunity for direct sharing of threat information, resources, and best practices. Since 2018, our members:

  • Shared 61,017 messages with each other
  • Uploaded 10,988 files containing resources and best practices

Over the course of the next five years, we will continue to build on this growing and thriving community of collaborators and contributors – we must – as no one person, or group, has all the answers when it comes to securing faith-based organizations – we must work together across faiths and denominations to provide a nurturing environment for the entire community to work together to seek those many right answers.

Reduce the threat.

Protect the free practice of faith.

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