As the violence rages on in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, federal authorities in the U.S. have issued warnings that there is an increased risk that could be posed by “violent extremists and lone offenders” in the U.S.
On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint release that said they have increased their threat level since an initial alert was sent out earlier in October.
As the agencies said in the release:
“Since DHS and FBI issued the 10 October Public Service Announcement, the volume and frequency of threats to Americans, especially those in the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities in the United States, have increased, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by or reacting to ongoing events could target these communities.”
Some examples the agencies have seen happen across the U.S. include “hoax bomb threats targeting houses of worship and violent rhetoric online encouraging attacks against the Jewish, Arab America, and Muslim communities.”
One incident that is currently being investigated as a potential hate crime is the death of 6-year-old boy Wadea Al-Fayoume. The Muslim boy was killed, and his mother was wounded, when their landlord stabbed them.
In addition, the bulletin sent by the two agencies aid that some terrorist organizations including al Qaeda and the Islamic State have said Hamas should conduct other attacks on U.S. battleships, airports, embassies and bases that are located in countries that are predominantly Muslim. THey’ve also called for similar attacks on Jewish communities in the U.S. and throughout Europe.
In addition, state media in Iran is also spreading much misinformation online regarding the ongoing conflict, authorities said.
As the bulletin laid out:
“Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories have long been a source of calls for violence against Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities. This history, coupled with the current widespread sharing of graphic and disturbing content related to this conflict, increases the risk of incitement to violence in the United States. We therefore urge everyone to remain vigilant and to report any threats of violence or suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
Hamas first attacked Israel by surprise in early October, leaving 1,400 people dead. The group, which is recognized officially as a terrorist group by the U.S., also took roughly 200 people hostage.
In the weeks since, Israel launched their own airstrikes on Gaza. On Thursday, the Gaza Health Ministry said that those attacks have led to 7,000 people being killed and 18,000 others being injured to date.
However, President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that it might not be wise to rely on these figures, since they’re coming from a ministry that’s run by Hamas.
The U.S. has consistently reaffirmed its long-lasting support for Israel and the rights that it has to respond to the Hamas attacks.