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DHS and FBI Issue PSA to Highlight Potential Threats from Actors in Response to HAMAS Attacks

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) received a memo on Thursday November 2, 2023, from John Wilgris, Vice President of Member and Business Relations with the Florida Hospital Association, who is also a liaison for AHA’s State, Regional and Metropolitan Association Emergency Readiness program.  The memo included a Public Service Announcement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding potential threats in the United States from a variety of actors in response to the HAMAS attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. In an effort to keep our members up to date on all the activities to may impact the healthcare community and the citizens of South Dakota, we have included a portion of the PSA below, including the full PSA here.


DHS and FBI Public Service Announcement

Threat Environment

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are issuing this Public Service Announcement to highlight potential threats in the United States from a variety of actors in response to the HAMAS attacks on Israel on 7 October and subsequent activities in the region, including additional calls by foreign terrorist organizations to their supporters seeking to foment violence in the West. This is an update to the 10 October FBI and DHS Public Service Announcement and the 18 October FBI, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and DHS Joint Intelligence Bulletin to law enforcement partners. This announcement reflects a fluid and evolving situation; the terrorism threat in the Homeland has remained heightened throughout 2023, but recent events have increased the possibility of potential attacks against individuals and institutions in response to developments in the Middle East.

Since DHS and FBI issued the 10 October Public Service Announcement, the volume and frequency of threats to Americans, especially those in the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities in the United States, have increased, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by or reacting to ongoing events could target these communities. These threats have included hoax bomb threats targeting houses of worship and violent rhetoric online encouraging attacks against the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities across the United States. Of note, on 14 October an individual in Illinois stabbed and killed a six-year-old Palestinian-American child and severely wounded his mother, an incident that is being investigated as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

While we have no specific information that foreign adversaries are plotting attacks against the homeland, some are seeking to take advantage of the conflict, calling for violence in furtherance of their respective goals. On 13 October, al-Qaida media called for support to HAMAS through attacks against American bases, airports, battleships, and embassies in predominantly Muslim countries. On 19 October, an ISIS media posting urged followers to “target the Jewish presence all over the world…especially Jewish neighborhoods in America and Europe,” and specifically encouraged attacks on Jewish temples, nightclubs, and economic interests and against “Jewish and Crusader” embassies. Iranian media outlets have issued and/or amplified various types of mis- and dis-information online about the conflict in ways that risk deepening resentment and evoking strong emotional responses among English-speaking audiences. These outlets are utilizing verifiably doctored or mislabeled images and video footage, inaccurate translations, and misleading content about the conflict with the apparent intent to stoke passions, accelerate the process of radicalization, and lead individuals to engage in targeted violence.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories have long been a source of calls for violence against Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities. This history, coupled with the current widespread sharing of graphic and disturbing content related to this conflict, increases the risk of incitement to violence in the United States. We therefore urge everyone to remain vigilant and to report any threats of violence or suspicious activity to law enforcement.  The full PSA that includes Resources can be found here: https://sdaho.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/DHS-FBI-PSA-10_25_.pdf

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