Conflict in Gaza may act as 'catalyst for various violent actors': DHS

DHS said it's "concerned about lone offenders" inspired by the conflict.

October 23, 2023, 2:58 PM

Images of the conflict in Israel could serve as "a catalyst for various violent actors," the Department of Homeland Security warned in an intelligence assessment on Sunday.

The agency said it's "concerned about lone offenders inspired by or responding to the conflict committing simple, unsophisticated attacks that are difficult to warn of in advance."

"Attacks in other countries that are potentially related to the conflict could also motivate copycat or retaliatory attacks," DHS said in the assessment.

The Israeli military has a "green light" to move into Gaza whenever it's ready, a member of the country’s security cabinet told ABC News. The Biden administration is asking Israel to delay the looming ground incursion into Gaza to allow time for the release of more hostages and for humanitarian aid to get to civilians in Gaza, an administration official told ABC News Sunday.

DHS noted it has concerns about threats to houses of worship as the conflict intensifies.

PHOTO: Soldiers sit on an artillery unity near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on Oct. 22, 2023 in Netivot, Israel.
Soldiers sit on an artillery unity near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on Oct. 22, 2023 in Netivot, Israel.
Amir Levy/Getty Images

"Some individuals continue to call for violence against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab targets in the United States across various social media platforms. We continue to be concerned about threats to houses of worship and other institutions," the assessment said.

"We continue to observe threats directed against the Jewish community, including a bomb threat to a synagogue in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 21. According to open-source reporting, an individual called a suicide hotline stating they were suicidal and stated their desire to bomb a named synagogue."

Domestic extremists, while a concern, have not signaled any "intent to provide facilitation or assistance to any foreign terrorist organizations in the Gulf region, including HAMAS or Hezbollah."

The threat abroad also persists, with the assessment saying that 3,000 demonstrators were chanting anti-U.S. and anti-Israel slogans and waving flags outside of the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.

Terrorist organizations have continued to provide support and encouragement to Hamas, according to DHS.

"The Islamic Group in Lebanon released a statement on 21 October that al-Fajr Forces, the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood linked Islamic group al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya in Lebanon, conducted missile attacks against Israel on 21 October."

John Cohen, the former Acting Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis told ABC News the increased threat environment worries law enforcement.

"What concerns state and local law enforcement is that the combination of graphic content, calls for violence and instruction on attack methodologies will be served as both a call to action as well as an instruction manual for attacks by disaffected, angry and violence prone individuals here in the US. It is believed that the longer this conflict last, the higher the risk residual violence here in the US," Cohen, an ABC News contributor said.

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