(NewsNation) – While many people are taking time off for the holidays, suspected criminals haven’t paused to target the power grid.
A new federal law enforcement memo from last week, obtained exclusively by NewsNation, warns of three suspected arson attacks at energy facilities in Hawaii.
“There have been three recent arson fires reported in Hawaii. One of the events caused damage to the perimeter fence of an electrical substation,” the memo reads.
Damage was reported as minor and there does not appear to have been any loss of power.
The note also highlighted the ease with which substations and other electrical infrastructure can be affected. He said “fire, blunt instruments, cutting tools, vehicle ramming and airdrops from UAS (drones) are easy to do, require minimal tools and little planning.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the spate of physical attacks and intrusions in recent months, from Florida to North Carolina to Oregon and Washington. Nor is there a determined motive for the attacks.
But federal law enforcement has cited suspected white supremacists sharing specific location information of substations in recent months.
Calum Farley, an extremist researcher with the Ant-Defamation League, said white supremacists subscribe to a set of ideas known as “accelerationism”. It involves causing chaos to escalate racial conflict, with the goal of building the world they want to see in stride.
“So for them, what they’re seeing is that by disrupting the system, in this case the power grid, they’re sort of able, in their belief system, to wake people up to what’s happening in society right now,” Farley said.
Although they did not claim responsibility, Farley said white supremacists were celebrating the recent attacks.
“Again, they may not claim responsibility for this, but they are happy for this to happen. And we’re seeing kind of an increase in propaganda and talk around these kinds of attacks,” he said.
It’s not just physical attacks that the network is vulnerable to.
In its 2021 annual report, Hawaiian Electric, the supplier to 95% of the Hawaiian Islands, acknowledged a security threat with a focus on cybersecurity, noting: attacks and data security breaches that could harm its activities and its reputation.
Hawaiian Electric told NewsNation it believes at least two of the alleged arson attacks were actually associated with homeless encampments near several of their facilities. In a statement, a spokesperson said. “Local and federal agencies are not aware of any specific or credible threats to the electrical grid infrastructure in Hawaii. The physical security of our grid is a top priority for Hawaiian Electric and we are working closely with law enforcement. order and report all suspicious incidents.
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