FBI on alert for threats to the Jewish community ahead of Passover, director says

ByJosh Campbell, CNNWire
Monday, April 22, 2024
FBI warns of antisemitic threats ahead of Passover
Federal law enforcement is on alert for any potential threats to the US Jewish community ahead of the start of the Passover holiday.

Federal law enforcement is on alert for any potential threats to the US Jewish community ahead of the start of the Passover holiday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a group of nationwide security officials Wednesday.

"We at the bureau remain particularly concerned that lone actors could target large gatherings, high profile events, or symbolic or religious locations for violence - particularly a concern, of course, as we look to the start of Passover on Monday evening," Wray said.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Secure Community Network, a Jewish community nonprofit safety and training organization, Wray said threats to the US Jewish community had already been elevated before Hamas' October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, but the number of FBI hate crime cases tripled in the wake of the incident.

"Between October 7 and January 30 of this year, we opened over three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations than in the four months before October 7," said Wray, who noted raw statistics about investigations represent "very real threats to your institutions, to your houses of worship, to your schools and university organizations, and to the individuals in your communities simply for being who you are."

An Anti-Defamation League audit released Tuesday showed there was a dramatic upward trend of incidents after the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Between October 7 and December 31, there were 5,204 incidents, CNN reported earlier this week.

The Jewish civil rights advocacy group tracked 8,873 antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2023 - the highest number of incidents reported since the organization began tracking data in 1979.

In addition to homegrown violence and a surge in hoax threats against Jewish facilities, Wray warned that the FBI was also observing a range of threats from abroad.

"We've seen - since October 7 - a rogues' gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against the United States and our allies," said Wray, including calls by global terrorist groups "to target Jewish communities both in the United States and Europe."

In addressing Jewish community security officials, Wray also called out state-sponsored threats.

"After the last few days, in particular, the threat posed by Iran itself is very real," he said.

Wray added that after Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel last week in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria, "we are urging all of our partners here and around the world to stay vigilant" against any "potential threats that may emerge from Iran or its proxies both overseas and even here in the homeland."

CNN's Jack Forrest and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.

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