A weekly intelligence brief from a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned of white supremacists discussing plans to weaponize COVID-19.
White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other such racist extremist groups are encouraging members who test positive for the novel coronavirus to spread the infection to people of color, jews, and members of law enforcement, according to the FBI. In an alert sent by the bureau's New York office on Thursday, the agency reported that "members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions." The alarming alert obtained by ABC News reportedly told local police agencies that extremists are encouraging their followers to try to spread bodily fluids to cops on the street using spray bottles.
If you ever wondered whether a deadly pandemic would cause white supremacists to think about something other than harming Jews and law enforcement, you now have your answer. We thank our friends at the @FBI for their vigilance during these dangerous times.https://t.co/FLJtgZpzWo— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) March 23, 2020
These racist groups are also said to be instructing members to spread the contagion in the Jewish community by going "any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship." According to Yahoo News, a weekly intelligence brief from a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned of white supremacists discussing plans to weaponize COVID-19. The intelligence brief written by the Federal Protective Service stated: "Violent extremists continue to make bioterrorism a popular topic among themselves. White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an 'OBLIGATION' to spread it should any of them contract the virus."
Members were asked to use spray bottles filled with body fluids to attack police and Jewish people. https://t.co/djOU2s7uKZ— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 22, 2020
According to the document which covered the week of February 17-24, the extremists discussed a number of methods for coronavirus attacks, including leaving "saliva on door handles" at local FBI offices, spreading coronavirus germs in "nonwhite neighborhoods," and spitting on elevator buttons. Although the FBI declined to comment on the alert, it issued a statement saying: "FBI field offices routinely share information with their local law enforcement partners to assist in protecting the communities they serve."
This is outrageous. While Jews around the world are struggling like everyone else to cope with the #coronavirus, we are also being bombarded by this anti-Semitic filth.— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) March 22, 2020
Where are our interfaith allies? We're here for you. And we need you here for us. https://t.co/XzS8aQMQCK
"These products are intended to be informative in nature, and as such, they contain appropriate caveats to describe the confidence in the sourcing of information and the likelihood of the assessment. Additionally, when written at a local level, these products will note that the perspective offered may be limited to the field office’s area of responsibility," it added. Don Mihalek, the executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, said: "Anti-government folks in America love to target law enforcement as a symbol of America’s authority. It’s just sad that that's their focus at a time of crisis in the nation."
This is absolutely crazy. Federal law enforcement document reveals white supremacists discussed using coronavirus as a bioweapon. These are probably the same people standing in line around gun stores now buying guns.https://t.co/Y4FPStAIqU— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) March 21, 2020
Organizations that monitor the internet for white supremacist discussions are said to have been seeing chatter blaming the Jewish community for the pandemic and the world's response to the ongoing crisis—including the shut down of all but essential government functions. Michael Masters, the head of Secure Communities Network—a group which coordinates security for Jewish organizations and synagogues around the country—said: "From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus virus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their own conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms."
Federal investigators found that neo-Nazi groups have had online discussions about using coronavirus as a bioweapon against law enforcement and "non white" people.https://t.co/72n57Ou6jA pic.twitter.com/QFz0jQvX3G— The Root (@TheRoot) March 22, 2020
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Alexander Rosemberg, ADL deputy regional director for the New York/New Jersey region, said: "There is always concern that people will be scapegoated in the face of a health crisis. It happens every time there is a major pandemic. It happened with Africans around Ebola. It happened recently with the Orthodox community in New York City around the measles scare that we had." He added that in the case of the novel coronavirus, these issues began with people blaming individuals of Asian descent as the virus is believed to have originated in China.
'Media reports hyperfocused on the Orthodox Jewish community, @ChaskelBennett added, are “dangerous”: “Bigots feed off of news media reports that place an outsized focus on Orthodox Jews when everyone knows Covid-19 is a worldwide pandemic.”https://t.co/k64jjaG6Nm— 𝙔𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙛 𝙍𝙖𝙥𝙖𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩 (@YosefRapaport) March 23, 2020
"We started seeing them getting assaulted in the subway. But then it has moved into other communities, including the Jewish community," he said. "We are always concerned that this does not go beyond where it should. The public should be focusing more on how to prevent the disease and the virus from spreading rather than blaming a group."