The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning on Wednesday, expressing concern that Israel's conflict with Hamas might fuel an increase in hate crimes in the U.S.
According to federal officials, they have seen a surge in reported threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions.
“These threats have included hoax bomb threats targeting houses of worship and violent rhetoric online encouraging attacks against the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities across the United States,” the FBI and DHS said in a joint press release. “While we have no specific information that foreign adversaries are plotting attacks against the homeland, some are seeking to take advantage of the conflict, calling for violence in furtherance of their respective goals.”
Officials stated that Iranian media outlets and Islamic extremist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS were exploiting the conflict to fuel divisions and advocate for violent attacks in the U.S. and Europe by delivering misinformation to their viewers. ISIS went as far as to promote attacks on Jewish temples, nightclubs, economic interests, and against “Jewish and Crusader” embassies.
“These outlets are utilizing verifiably doctored or mislabeled images and video footage, inaccurate translations, and misleading content about the conflict with the apparent intent to stoke passions, accelerate the process of radicalization, and lead individuals to engage in targeted violence,” the press release said.
This warning follows an incident that took place just 12 days ago, in which a 71-year-old man from Illinois fatally stabbed a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy and seriously wounded his 32-year-old mother. This incident is currently under investigation as a potential anti-Muslim hate crime.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, preliminary data shows that "reported incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault increased by 388%" across the U.S. with "high levels of anti-Israel protests — some with overt advocacy for Hamas and outright hatred towards Jews."
DHS and the FBI are urging people to remain vigilant and promptly report any threats of violence or suspicious activities to law enforcement.
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