SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – In a terror threat bulletin Wednesday, the United States Department of Homeland Security is sounding the alarm about threats to both the Jewish and LGBTQ communities.
Antisemitism and homophobia have both dominated recent news cycles, considering recent anti-Semitic remarks and attitudes from media and political figures, and the fatal shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs earlier this month.
Now, DHS stated that “the United States remains in a heightened threat environment” in general as “lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the homeland.”
In 2020, the last year for which hate crime statistics are available from the federal government, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that LGBTQ Americans were the second most likely group, after Black Americans, to be targeted by a bias crime. The top five motivations for bias crimes that year were:
- Anti-Black or African-American: 2,871 (35% of the total)
- Anti-gay male, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming: 1,346 (16% of the total)
- Anti-White: 869 (11% of the total)
- Anti-Jewish: 683 (8% of the total)
- Anti-Hispanic or Latino: 517 (6% of the total)
Specifically, DHS stated that “hatred toward Jewish people” was a motivating factor in a threat on synagogues made by a New Jersey man.
“Recent incidents have highlighted the enduring threat to faith-based communities, including the Jewish community,” DHS stated. “In early November 2022, an individual in New Jersey was arrested for sharing a manifesto online that threatened attacks on synagogues. The individual admitted to writing the document, in which he claimed to be motivated by the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) and hatred towards Jewish people.”
Further, DHS noted that law enforcement is concerned about online chatter celebrating the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting, as well as another violent attack at an LGBTQ bar in the Eastern European country of Slovakia that led to two deaths.
“Some domestic violent extremists who have conducted attacks have cited previous attacks and attackers as inspiration,” DHS stated. “Following the late November shooting at an LGBTQI+ bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado—which remains under investigation—we have observed actors on forums known to post racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist content praising the alleged attacker. Similarly, some domestic violent extremists in the United States praised an October 2022 shooting at a LGBTQI+ bar in Slovakia and encouraged additional violence. The attacker in Slovakia posted a manifesto online espousing white supremacist beliefs and his admiration for prior attackers, including some within the United States.”
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DHS also warned about political violence in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“While violence surrounding the November midterm elections was isolated, we remain vigilant that heightened political tensions in the country could contribute to individuals mobilizing to violence based on personalized grievances,” the department stated. “In October 2022 in San Francisco, California, an individual allegedly broke into the home of a Member of Congress and attacked their spouse with a hammer. The individual arrested for this crime was allegedly inspired by partisan grievances and conspiracy theories.“
DHS is asking people to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, seek help for people struggling with mental health issues and be vigilant particularly around public gatherings, faith-based institutions such as churches, synagogues and mosques, LGBTQ+ spaces, schools, and other government facilities.