NATIONAL NEWS

FBI and DHS warn faith-based communities ‘will likely continue’ to be targets of violence

Jan 18, 2022, 10:10 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
COLLEYVILLE, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel s...
COLLEYVILLE, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. All four people who were held hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue have been safely released after more than 10 hours of being held captive by a gunman. Yesterday, police responded to a hostage situation after reports of a man with a gun was holding people captive. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Top officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security warned in a letter Monday that faith-based communities will likely remain targets for violence, urging state and local partners to evaluate their security postures for mass gathering events and at houses of worship.

“Faith based communities have and will likely continue to be targets of violence by both domestic violent extremists and those inspired by foreign terrorists,” said the letter from Paul Abbate, FBI deputy director, and John D. Cohen, the top intelligence official at DHS.

Online forums linked to domestic violent extremists have referenced Jewish targets tied to conspiracy theories about Covid-19, the outcome of the 2020 election and “even the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and resettlement of Afghans to the United States,” according to the letter obtained by CNN.

The joint notice comes two days after the Colleyville, Texas, hostage standoff at Congregation Beth Israel, which the FBI is investigating as a terrorist incident.

The investigation into Saturday’s incident is still in its “initial phases,” the officials said, adding that “while this appears to be an isolated incident, and there are currently no additional specific and credible threats associated with it, we will continue to monitor all reporting to ensure this incident is not a catalyst for similar attacks.”

The officials pointed out that the US is in a period of “heightened threat,” which includes threats from domestic violent extremists and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists.

The threat is exacerbated by a divided society and the global pandemic, according to the letter, which says that in some cases, social stressors and other personal factors have mixed with ideological issues, resulting in violence.

“Foreign influence actors have also promoted narratives online intended to sow discord in the U.S. and foreign terrorist groups continue to encourage followers to conduct attacks and use social media to incite violence,” the letter notes.

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said DHS will work with Congress to increase funding so faith-based communities can upgrade their security and protect themselves against terrorism, hate crimes and targeted violence.

Congregation Beth Israel was a recipient of DHS grant funding as part of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, according to Mayorkas.

Funding, which is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, can be used in several ways, such as enhancing physical security, installing cameras, hiring security guards and cybersecurity upgrades. Other grant funding goes toward prevention and response programs to equip communities to identify when individuals are moving down the path to violence.

“This kind of threat did not begin when this attack started yesterday, and it will not end with the hostages free,” Mayorkas said during a media briefing.

He said the “harsh reality” is that there continues to be a “rise in the language of hate and its connectivity to violence.”

“We need to ensure that we not only protect our houses of worship and all places of assembly, but that we become aware of the signs that someone is going down a path toward violence,” Mayorkas told reporters.

CNN reported last week that a year after the attack on the US Capitol, homeland security and law enforcement officials nationwide were bracing for potential “unprecedented” levels of violence in the year ahead.

The country remains polarized, and many people are angry and frustrated about their individual selves or society’s conditions after two years of Covid-19 upheaval, turbulent economic conditions and government restrictions, sources and nongovernmental researchers told CNN.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Sesame Street cast member and film subject Bob McGrath attends a ...
Associated Press

Bob McGrath, ‘Sesame Street’ legend, dies at 90

Actor, musician and children’s author widely known for his portrayal of one of the first regular characters on the children’s show “Sesame Street,” Bob McGrath, has died at the age of 90.
23 hours ago
Gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, North Carolina, on Dec. 4, 2022. (John...
Nicole Grether, Gloria Pazmino and Tina Burnside, CNN

Gunfire at power substation cause North Carolina outages

Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act.
23 hours ago
Lava flowing from Mauna Loa Volcano during the night. (KSL-TV's Carissa Hutchinson)...
Shelby Lofton

‘It’s kind of an eerie feeling;’ Utah man living in Hawaii witnesses Mauna Loa eruption

A Utah man has a front-row seat to the Mauna Loa Volcano eruption happening on the Big Island of Hawaii.
23 hours ago
Body camera footage taken from a traffic stop last month. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)...
Keith Allen, CNN

Tampa police chief placed on leave after flashing badge during traffic stop

Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor has been placed on administrative leave after body camera footage taken from a traffic stop last month revealed she told a deputy she was "hoping that you'll just let us go tonight" and flashed her badge.
23 hours ago
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on Sept. 25, 2021, in Perry, Georgia. (Photo by Sea...
HOPE YEN, Associated Press

Trump rebuked for call to suspend Constitution over election

Former President Donald Trump is facing rebuke from both parties after calling for the “termination” of parts of the Constitution over his lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
23 hours ago
tetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates with the trophy...
Associated Press

SEC halftime contest booed, both students awarded $100,000

Two college students have won $100,000 in tuition after a confusing finish in the SEC championship game's halftime competition. Boos rained down from the fans in attendance for the game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 LSU when one of the two students appeared to win the Dr Pepper ball toss competition in overtime on a technicality. The winner was due to get $100,000 and the runner-up $20,000. Baylor student Reagan Whitaker and St. Augustine student Kayla Gibson exchanged leads multiple times in regulation. In overtime, they tied again, but Whitaker was declared the winner. It was announced on the broadcast in the fourth quarter of the game that Dr Pepper would gift both Whitaker and Gibson with $100,000 in tuition.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
FBI and DHS warn faith-based communities ‘will likely continue’ to be targets of violence