Amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and escalating tensions, the FBI issued an alert to American citizens. On Tuesday, they cautioned Americans about the potential for violence by lone actors during the holiday season. Unfortunately, large gatherings celebrating Christ, togetherness, and goodwill are a target for attacks.
A joint public service announcement from the FBI, DHS and National Counterterrorism Center highlighted the likelihood of an increased “threat of lone actor violence targeting large public gatherings throughout the winter” due to the conflict in the Middle East.
The FBI specifically warned of the vulnerability of large holiday crowds, describing them as a “convenient target” for individuals motivated to commit acts of violence against Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Arab individuals.
FBI issues warning of lone actor violence for holiday events https://t.co/A1IawFdWdL
— The Hill (@thehill) December 13, 2023
The warning stated, “Calls for violence may increase in the days leading up to the holidays and before other notable events this winter.” It also mentioned some factors that may contribute to such violent acts, such as escalations in the Israel-Hamas conflict and instances of violence inspiring copycats or retaliatory attacks.
The notice also highlighted an increase in shootings and alleged bomb threats against synagogues nationwide. The agencies ultimately urged the public to remain extra vigilant and asked citizens to immediately report any threats of violence or suspicious activity to law enforcement.
The FBI noted a rise in potential hate crimes or other criminal violations following Hamas’s unexpected attack on Israel on October 7th — the tragedy that resulted in over 1,200 casualties.
FBI Director Christopher Wray clarified that the warning did not stem from specific plotting activity. The statement detailed how multiple targets in one location could “likely remain attractive to lone actors.” Think of churches, large shopping malls or centers, and Christmas events like parades or concerts.
Wray reported a 60% increase in hate crimes nationwide. These attacks have primarily targeted the Jewish community since the beginning of the conflict.
Wray also explained the FBI’s efforts to prevent potential assaults driven by support for Hamas while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Given the steady drumbeat of calls for attacks by foreign terrorist organizations since Oct. 7, we’re working around the clock to identify and disrupt potential attacks by those inspired by Hamas’s horrific terrorist attacks in Israel.”
The FBI’s alert reminds us of the need for heightened awareness during the holiday season. The joint announcement from law enforcement agencies stresses the need for public vigilance and urges Americans to report suspicious activities. Today, we live in a world where we just cannot fully enjoy anything, Christmas included. We always have to be on defense.
As holiday festivities unfold, the nation remains on high alert — navigating the delicate balance between ensuring public safety and preserving the season’s joyful and merry spirit. Law enforcement agencies are implementing more rigid security measures, increasing personnel and closely monitoring public events.