Threats against minorities are pouring in, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis said in a new bulletin sent out this week.
The department said it “continues to observe” threats on social media platforms from foreign and domestic individuals against Arab, Muslim and Jewish communities.
In the bulletin, which was sent out on January 10, the department said:
“[Foreign Terrorist Organizations] continue to post or recirculate messaging in response to the ongoing conflict to encourage violence or recruit new members.
“On 4 January, ISIS media released a 34-minute speech by official ISIS spokesman Abu Hudhayfa al-Ansari titled ‘And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them.’”
In that speech, al-Ansari said that people should engage in attacks against Christian and Jewish targets all over the globe, the DHS said, including on U.S. soil.
He said that attackers should prioritize targets such as houses of worship, and should use a variety of different methods of attack such as shootings, stabbings, bombings or using vehicles.
The leader also said that people should target civilians intentionally when they attack. According to the DHS bulletin, this is the first time that ISIS has directly spoken about the conflict going on between the terrorist organization Hamas and Israel.
In addition, DHS said the terrorist organization as well as some of its affiliates have said they are responsible for attacks that have occurred in the Philippines, Nigeria, Pakistan and Iran.
Even though Jewish people represent a relatively small percentage of the U.S. population, officials with American law enforcement agencies have said that they are often the main targets of threats by these terrorist organizations.
Back in October, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, told a panel in the Senate:
“In fact, our statistics would indicate that for a group that represents only about 2.4% of the American public, they account for something like 60% of all religious-based hate crimes.”
The DHS bulletin further points out that some graphic images coming from overseas wars “will likely continue to circulate online and garner significant media attention, potentially acting as a catalyst for various violent actors.
“Plots or attacks in other countries that are potentially related to the conflict could also motivate copycat or retaliatory attacks. I&A remains concerned about lone offenders inspired by or responding to the conflict committing simple, unsophisticated attacks that are difficult to warn of in advance.”
The DHS has been engaging in an outreach program with multiple faith-based communities in hopes of making them feel more comfortable and in gathering information that could help them potentially neutralize a threat before something bad happens.
Kristie Canegallo, who works with DHS as its acting deputy secretary, spoke with ABC News about this fact, saying:
“Thinking about the threat landscape and the end and the new challenges that have been posted in light of the ongoing conflict in the MIddle East and the challenges particularly to faith-based organizations, that’s been work that we have done for years. This year, [we’ve] done a record-breaking number of engagements [with the faith-based community].”