The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have issued a public service announcement regarding potential threats across the nation from various actors during the upcoming winter season.
This announcement comes following the continued violence between Israel and Hamas. The FBI warns of the potential of violence targeting public gatherings that take place throughout the winter and holiday season. Holiday-related and faith-based gatherings may be targeted as well as events related to the conflict protected by the First Amendment.
This message acts as a warning, not a response to any plotted activity event.
“These targets likely remain attractive to lone actors inspired by a range of ideologies due to their accessibility and symbolic nature,” according to the FBI.
“Since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, various foreign terrorist media organizations have called for lone actor attacks in the United States,” the FBI said in a PSA. “Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) have also increased calls for violence and celebrated attacks on the Jewish community.”
The FBI reported that these lone actors may provoke violence and disrupt large gatherings involving symbolic or religious locations and distinguished and high profile events. Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Arab communities may be potential targets at such gatherings.
There has also been an increase in reporting on potential hate crimes and other public violations since October 7.
“We have also observed an increase in hoax bomb and active shooter threats targeting synagogues across the United States, likely intended to disrupt services and intimidate congregants,” The FBI reported. “Calls for violence may increase in the days leading up to the holidays and before other notable events this winter.
“Threats of violence can be heightened following escalations between Israel and Hamas, leading to notable instances of violence in the Homeland inspiring copycat or retaliatory attacks.
“We therefore urge everyone to remain vigilant and to report any threats of violence or suspicious activity to law enforcement,” the FBI stated. “FBI and DHS are particularly attuned in this environment to the concerns of the Jewish, Arab American and Muslim communities and will continue to engage directly with leaders in these communities to ensure that available resources are utilized.”
The DHS has collected various resources for communities and faith leaders, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) compendium of resources to secure spaces open to the public and large gatherings. There are also resources accessible to law enforcement to assist in preventing acts of violence and potential threats across the nation.