Law enforcement 'very concerned' about 'lone wolf' threat against Jewish communities after Hamas attack: Mayorkas

The homeland security secretary spoke to Jewish leaders in Washington.

October 18, 2023, 3:54 PM

Law enforcement around the country remain "very concerned" about the threat of a "lone wolf" actor attempting to exploit the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Jewish leaders.

"We remain very concerned about the lone wolf, the individual incited to violence by and ideology of hate," Mayorkas said at "Unity in Crisis: Emergency Leadership Mission for Israel" an event in Washington, D.C., put on by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Mayorkas urged Jewish organizations to utilize the $156 million made available by the department through grant funding in order to bolster security around synagogues in the wake of Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel.

In his remarks, the secretary said since last Saturday's attack, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric in the United States and around the world.

Mayorkas also harkened back to his own story, speaking of his mother's "experience in fleeing the Nazis and the lasting impact of her suffering."

"And just as the experiences of our parents, our grandparents, ancestors, have had lasting impacts on successive generations, so too will the savagery inflicted on Israel and its people reverberate for decades to come and impact future generations," he added.

Mayorkas' warnings about antisemitic threats echoed remarks made by FBI Director Christopher Wray over the weekend, saying that he could not rule out the possibility that Hamas, Hezbollah or other foreign terrorist organizations could call on supporters to conduct attacks in the U.S.

"The threat is very much ongoing and in fact, the threat picture continues to evolve," Wray said. "Here in the U.S., we cannot and do not discount the possibility that Hamas or other foreign terrorist organizations could exploit the conflict to call on their supporters to conduct attacks on our own soil."

Antisemitic crimes rose 25% from 2021 to 2022, with 1,124 crimes recorded -- accounting for more than half of all reported religious-based hate crimes, according to FBI statistics released on Monday.