U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed U.S. attorneys across the country to keep in close contact with state and local officials as threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities rise amid the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.
“As the FBI has noted, we are seeing an increase in reported threats against faith communities, particularly Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions,” Garland said Thursday during a speech in Jacksonville, Fla., to discuss redlining. “Last week, I directed all 94 of our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the FBI to be in close touch with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in their districts.”
He added that he instructed U.S. attorneys to reach out to religious and community leaders to ask what support they need.
Reports of domestic threats have spiked since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Saturday, a week after Hamas fighters killed more than 1,400 people, and took hundreds more hostage. Israel has since hit back by commencing a siege of Gaza and firing its own barrage of retaliatory missiles, killing thousands.
On Sunday, a 71-year-old man allegedly stabbed a 6-year-old Muslim boy and his mother in Illinois, killing the child and seriously wounding the mother. The Department of Justice is investigating the indecent as a federal hate crime.
“The entire Justice Department remains vigilant in our efforts to identify and respond to hate crimes, threats of violence, or related incidents, with particular attention to threats to faith communities,” Garland said Thursday. “And, as always, the Justice Department remains focused on doing everything we can to keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism.”