Nationwide swatting spree targeting Jewish institutions appears coordinated, coming from outside US: FBI

More than 30 of the 56 FBI field offices are investigating the threats.

December 19, 2023, 10:49 PM

A nationwide swatting spree targeting nearly 200 Jewish institutions over the weekend appears to have been a coordinated effort by an entity based outside the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's top spokesperson said in a confidential memo to partner law enforcement agencies.

The communication, written by Assistant FBI Director Cathy Milhoan, and obtained by ABC News, says, "At this time, based on similar language and specific email tradecraft used, it appears the perpetrators of these threats are connected. Additionally, these threats appear to be originating from outside of the United States."

The exterior of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, headquarters of the FBI, is seen on Aug. 20, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE

Milhoan continued, "To date, none of these email threats have involved any actual explosive devices or credible risk of harm to congregants."

More than 30 of the 56 FBI field offices are investigating the threats, which violated multiple federal laws, according to Milhoan.

A "record number" of 199 swatting incidents and false bomb threats were tracked between Friday and Saturday by the Secure Community Network, a non-profit that advises U.S. Jewish institutions on safety and security.

The non-profit tracked the swatting spree across multiple states, including 93 in California, 62 in Arizona, 15 in Connecticut, five in Colorado, and four in Washington state, according to a press release.

According to SCN, swatting incidents are up over 540% from 2022, with more than 449 swatting incidents and bomb threats taking place this year.

October and November have seen a 290% rise since last year, "with a record 772 incidents logged," according to SCN's press release.

"The safety of all faith-based communities is one of the FBI's highest priorities. Once again, thank you for your partnership and your collaboration to keep our communities safe," Milhoan ended the letter.

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