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FBI's Wray Condemns Antisemitism, Arrest Made In Synagogue Threat

A week after a "credible" threat to synagogues in New Jersey, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that antisemitism remains "a pervasive and present fact," and vowed to protect Jewish communities against unyielding threats of violence, reports USA Today. "Jewish people continue to face repeated violence and very real threats, from all kinds of actors … simply for being who they are," Wray told an Anti-Defamation League conference in New York, noting that 63 percent of hate crimes in the U.S. involving religion were motivated by antisemitism. He urged communities to take proper security precautions. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced the arrest of an 18-year-old New Jersey man in connection with the threat, alleging that Omar Alkattoul used the Internet to share a “manifesto” that threatened violence against a synagogue. Alkattoul is accused of sending a document titled, “When Swords Collide” to six people outlining his alleged intentions to attack. “I am the attacker and I would like to introduce myself,” the suspect allegedly wrote.

Wray's address to the ADL marks another expression of deep concern for extremist-related threats and violence. In August, he cited an array of domestic grievances fueling rising tensions. "I feel like everyday I'm getting briefed on somebody throwing a molotov cocktail at someone for some issue," Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. He called election and politically-motivated violence "almost a 365-day phenomenon," an outgrowth of the country's deep divide. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and violence against Jews were up 34 percent in 2021. The ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt referred to anti-semitic expressions linked to Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kyrie Irving's public support for an anti-semitic film that has triggered criticism. "This is a state of emergency," Greenblatt said. Wray echoed Greenblatt's concerns. "We can’t stop people from thinking or saying hateful things," Wray said. "But there is a right way, under our Constitution and within the rule of law, for someone to express their beliefs, whatever they may be. And violence ain’t it."


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