FBI warns white supremacists encouraging members to spread coronavirus to law enforcement, Jews: report

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office recently sent out an alert to local authorities warning of extremist groups it said are encouraging their members to spread the novel coronavirus to police and Jewish people, ABC News reported.

According to the news agency, the alert, which was reportedly issued on Thursday, said that “members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions.”

The alert reportedly warned that the racist groups were urging their members to go to places where Jewish people “may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship.”

The alert also reportedly said some white supremacists and neo-Nazis were also urging members who contract the virus to spread the disease to cops by using spray bottles.

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, a spokesperson for the FBI said that while the agency’s “standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, 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,” the spokesperson added. “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.”

The report comes as the Anti-Defamation League reports some extremists have been pushing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online that blame Jewish people for the spread of the virus. 

“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,” Michael Masters, who heads the Secure Communities Network, a nonprofit that works to “serve the American Jewish community concerning matters of communal safety,” told ABC News.

“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 added.

The report also arrives as New York has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks amid an international outbreak.

According to The New York Times, the state, which has reported more than 15,100 confirmed cases of the virus so far, currently has nearly 5 percent of overall cases worldwide.

–This report was updated on March 23 at 3:04 p.m.

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