FBI: Threat of Violence Likely Heightened Throughout Winter

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An announcement released Tuesday, December 12, 2023 from the FBI, DHS, and NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center) assess that ongoing tensions related to the conflict between Israel and HAMAS likely heighten the threat of lone actor violence targeting large public gatherings throughout the winter, including holiday-related, faith-based, New Year’s Eve, and First Amendment protected events related to the conflict. Although this announcement is not in response to any specific plotting activity, these targets likely remain attractive to lone actors inspired by a range of ideologies due to their accessibility and symbolic nature.

Since the HAMAS attack on Israel on 7 October, various foreign terrorist media organizations have called for lone actor attacks in the United States. Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) have also increased calls for violence and celebrated attacks on the Jewish community. Lone actors may seek to disrupt or escalate violence at large gatherings, high profile events, or symbolic or religious locations throughout the winter. Such gatherings could become a convenient target for those inspired to commit violence against Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Arab communities. Hate crime perpetrators have also played a role in violence and threats of violence. There has been a spike in reporting on potential hate crimes or other criminal violations from the public, local law enforcement partners, and other private or public sector partners since 7 October. Authorities indicatedlkkl an increase in hoax bomb and active shooter threats targeting synagogues across the United States, likely intended to disrupt services and intimidate congregants.

Calls for violence may increase in the days leading up to the holidays and before other notable events this winter. Factors that could further exacerbate the threat of violence include escalations in the conflict between Israel and HAMAS and notable instances of violence in the Homeland inspiring copycat or retaliatory attacks. Authorities urge everyone to remain vigilant and to report any threats of violence or suspicious activity to law enforcement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) issued the Public Service Announcement to highlight potential threats in the United States from a variety of actors during the winter season. The Wednesday, December 12, 2023 alert was an update to the October 25 and October 10 public service announcements released by the FBI and DHS.

FBI and DHS also continue to share information with law enforcement partners, according to Wednesday’s notice.

NCTC joins those portions of this Announcement that concern international terrorism; general terrorist tactics, techniques, and procedures; and threats posed by foreign violent extremists and those violent extremists they inspire.

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.

To help mitigate potential risks in today’s dynamic and rapidly evolving threat environment, DHS has compiled several resources for communities and faith leaders, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) compendium of resources for securing mass gatherings and public spaces.

Additionally, resources for law enforcement also are available to increase our nation’s ability to prevent acts of violence and increase our resilience to evolving threats.

To report any leads, threats, or suspected criminal activity, FBI and DHS urge the public to visit tips.fbi.gov or contact their local FBI Office: www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices. For emergencies or an immediate threat to life, please call 911.

For tips on identifying concerning behavior which may be connected to violent extremism, the FBI, DHS, and NCTC published an updated U.S. Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators booklet in 2021.

If You See Something, Say Something® – Report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online threats, to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or your local Fusion Center.



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