A new threat assessment by the New York State Intelligence Center has revealed concerns about violence stemming from the Israel-Hamas war. The assessment, obtained and reported on by CBS News, warned the spread of antisemitic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric on social media is fueling an increase in hate crimes that target Jews, Muslims and Arabs.
The expansion of Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip, and the increase of civilian casualties there, raises the likelihood that “violent extremist threat actors” will seek to attack targets in the West, with New York being a focus, the report said.
“Terrorist messaging has placed focus on attacking ‘soft targets’ such as protests, group gatherings and other public events,” the report said.
While the New York State Police confirmed the report, officials told NewsNation they would not make it public.
One step Hochul is taking to combat possible attacks is expanding the state’s Threat Assessment and Management teams. These teams work to track hateful messages and locate violent threats before they can be carried out.
Hochul has previously announced the state is increasing staffing to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and made $50 million in grants available to local law enforcement agencies to prevent and solve hate and other crimes. Another $25 million in grants was put aside for security to protect houses of worship, community centers and other “at-risk” sites.
In addition, New York established a hate and bias reporting hotline.
Since Oct. 7, there’s been a 400% increase in online antisemitic and Islamophobic threats, Hochul said at a Tuesday news conference.
“Across our state, New Yorkers are afraid. If they have family or friends in Israel, in Gaza, other places, they’re afraid for their safety,” Hochul said. “At home, many are wrestling with the fear for the first time ever, sometime in their lives, of being the victim of a hate crime.”
Hochul has a four-pillar plan meant to stem these online threats, which includes strengthening security at physical locations, identifying credible online threats, calling out social media companies and creating resources for families and schools, including guides going out early next year about how to spot conspiracy theories, misinformation and “online hate.”
On Tuesday, Hochul said she will send a letter to social media companies saying they need better oversight, larger moderation teams and greater transparency.
Although the New York Police Department and state police “stepped up security” ahead of the Thanksgiving parade, Hochul emphasized that there are no credible threats aimed toward particular events or New York state itself at this time.
“We expect to have a good day,” Jackie Bray, commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, told reporters. “I will be out celebrating Thanksgiving, the governor will be out celebrating Thanksgiving — New Yorkers should feel safe to go about their holiday and enjoy their family.”
Still, as there’s been an increase in calls for violence inside and outside of the country, Bray urged people to “continue to be vigilant.”
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Author: Laura Ingle