Racist extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, are encouraging members who contract novel coronavirus disease to spread the contagion to cops and Jews, according to intelligence gathered by the FBI.
In an alert obtained by ABC News, the FBI’s New York office reports that "members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions."
The FBI alert, which went out on Thursday, told local police agencies that extremists want their followers to try to use spray bottles to spread bodily fluids to cops on the street. The extremists are also directing followers to spread the disease to Jews by going "any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship."
The FBI declined to comment on the alert, but issued a statement saying: "FBI field offices routinely share information with their local law enforcement partners to assist in protecting the communities they serve. These products are intended to be informative in nature, and as such, they contain appropriate caveats to describe the confidence in the sourcing of information and the likelihood of the assessment. Additionally, when written at a local level, these products will note that the perspective offered may be limited to the field office’s area of responsibility."
"Anti-government folks in America love to target law enforcement as a symbol of America’s authority," said Don Mihalek, the executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation and an ABC News contributor. "It’s just sad that that's their focus at a time of crisis in the nation."
What to know about coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
- What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
- Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
Organizations that monitor the internet for white supremacist messaging have been seeing chatter for weeks that blames Jews and Jewish leaders for both the coronavirus and the global response, including the shut down of all but essential government functions in places like New York, New Jersey and California.
"From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus virus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their own conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms," said Michael Masters, the head of Secure Communities Network, an umbrella group that coordinates security for Jewish organizations and synagogues around the country.
"While the world faces a deadly pandemic, it’s a stark reminder that certain groups – notably the Jewish community and law enforcement – must also continue the battle against those who wish to hurt or kill them," Masters continued. "As the economic situation remains fragile and civil society disrupted, the potential for the followers of hate to act becomes more likely ... and more deadly."
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