Threat to New Jersey synagogues 'mitigated' as FBI finds responsible, Jewish security group says

Threat to New Jersey synagogues ‘mitigated’ as FBI finds responsible, Jewish security group says

NEW JERSEY (WABC) — Law enforcement officials ‘located the individual suspected of being responsible’ for what sparked an FBI tweet that warned of a ‘broad threat’ to New Jersey’s Jewish community, according to the Secure Community Network, the umbrella security operations organization for synagogues and yeshivas in the United States.

Secure Community Network said law enforcement had “mitigated” the threat and “there were no longer any active security concerns”.

A statement from the FBI office at Newark Field was released Friday morning.

“Upon receiving information of a threat to an unspecified synagogue in the New Jersey area, the FBI notified community leaders and our law enforcement partners,” the statement said. “We have identified the source of the threat which no longer poses a danger to the community. As always, we would like to remind the public to remain vigilant and if they observe suspicious activity to report it immediately to law enforcement.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy thanked the FBI and state law enforcement for their quick investigative work. The governor also said the state will remain vigilant and ensure that threats against any place of worship are thoroughly investigated.

“This threat has violated one of our nation’s most fundamental tenets – the right to worship according to the dictates of our conscience and our sacred and holy traditions,” Murphy said. “We will always strive to ensure that every New Jerseyman, regardless of faith, can continue to live, learn and worship without fear for their safety.”

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The FBI office at Newark Field said Thursday it had received “credible information about a broad threat to New Jersey synagogues.”

A tweet from the office said: “We are currently asking you to take all safety precautions to protect your community and facilities. We will share more information as soon as possible. Stay alert. In an emergency, call the police. “

The nature of the threat was not immediately clear, but law enforcement sources told ABC News it was not a bomb threat.

The threat behind the FBI-Newark tweet originated online, law enforcement sources told ABC News. Although the information was deemed credible, the threat was not specific to any particular synagogue.

The decision to post the tweet came as a surprise to partners who are also part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, sources said.

Similar tweets have not been posted by other law enforcement agencies in the Greater New York area.

The NYPD said it was aware of the FBI alert.

“With great caution, the NYPD Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureaus are working diligently alongside the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI to ensure the safety and well-being of all areas that encompass our Jewish citizens and our synagogues here in New York and the tri-state area.”

WATCH | ABC News’ Aaron Katersky talks about the threats:

Out of an abundance of caution, New Jersey synagogues have been ordered to be vigilant. The public may see additional police patrols outside synagogues as part of the same caution, but more drastic measures, such as closures, are not happening.

“Law enforcement will increase patrols in sensitive areas. Some of these patrols will be in marked vehicles and some will not – but don’t be alarmed if you see an increase in police presence, as we take these measures with great caution,” Attorney General Matthew Platkin said. “We also urge New Jersey residents to be extremely vigilant and if you see any suspicious activity, please report it to your local authorities without delay. We continue to work together to keep New Jersey safe and let those who may harm residents of this state know that New Jersey will not be home to hatred, intolerance or violence.

Law enforcement officials have expressed concern about anti-Semitic rhetoric online from figures like Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, which has been seized upon by more extremist elements to call for violence against Jews.

As the FBI investigates further, officials felt it was best to let the public know so they could take appropriate action.

Governor Phil Murphy said he is monitoring the situation closely and working with local law enforcement to ensure all places of worship are protected.

Hoboken Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla said his administration is in contact with local law enforcement and Hoboken Police have increased police presence at the United Synagogue of Hoboken and Chabad of Hoboken.

Essex County is also increasing its police presence at synagogues.

“Due to the alert issued by the FBI, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office is increasing our presence at Essex County synagogues,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura. “We will continue to work with our municipal, state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure public safety.”

The director of community safety for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey said he is aware of the alert and is in communication with local authorities. They warned: if you see something, say something.


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