Updated Apr 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Wray says FBI on alert for threats against Jews ahead of Passover

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking before a House subcommittee on April 11.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking before a House subcommittee on April 11. Photo: Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FBI is on alert for potential threats against Jews ahead of the start of Passover next week.

The big picture: The FBI has repeatedly warned of increased threats against Jewish and Muslim Americans since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

  • Director Christopher Wray told Jewish community security officials Wednesday the bureau is "particularly concerned" that lone actors could target gatherings and events or religious locations over the holiday.

What they're saying: Wray said the number of anti-Jewish hate crime investigations opened by the FBI has at least tripled since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, compared to the four months before Oct. 7.

  • He added that he's "hard-pressed to think of a time" where elevated public safety and national security threats occurred at once.

Michael Masters, CEO of the Secure Community Network, said the organization was not aware of a direct threat against the Jewish community or Jewish facilities in the U.S. at the time but urged people to remain vigilant.

  • He said facilities should maintain the enhanced security they implemented after Oct. 7 and did not recommend additional measures.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia said in statements that they have been working closely with local law enforcement to proactively address potential threats.

  • Richard Priem, CEO of the Community Security Service, a national nonprofit that provides security to the Jewish community in the U.S., said in a statement that the organization has given security training to an "unprecedented" number of people since Oct. 7.

Zoom out: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a new report this week that antisemitic incidents more than doubled last year.

  • In total, ADL had tallied 8,873 antisemitic cases of assault, harassment, and vandalism — the highest number since the organization began tracking such incidents in 1979.
  • Anti-Muslim hate crimes also increased in major cities in the final months of 2023.

Between the lines: Wray said the FBI has seen an increase in bomb and active-shooter threats against synagogues, community centers and other Jewish facilities across the country.

  • He cautioned that the recent hostilities between Israel and Iran could spill outside of the Middle East, specifically warning attacks from Iran or its proxies are possible in other countries or in the U.S.

Go deeper ... "Moral crisis on our campus": Columbia leaders testify to Congress on antisemitism

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional reporting.

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