The announcement comes the day after the FBI said that it had received credible information about a “broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, prompting some municipalities to send extra police officers to guard houses of worship.
The nature of the threat was vague. The FBI’s Newark office released a statement urging synagogues to “take all security precautions to protect your community and facility,” but wouldn’t say anything about who made the threat or why.
On Friday, the source of the now-mitigated threat remained unidentified, but the FBI encouraged the public “to remain vigilant” and report “suspicious activity … to law enforcement immediately.”
No further information about the nature of the threat has been publicly released, though a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said the online threat did not target any particular synagogue by name.
James E. Dennehy, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Newark office, also did not provide the name of the person who made the threat, but he told BuzzFeed News that it was a man who lives in New Jersey.
Officials believe the man acted alone, but they are still investigating to see if anyone else worked with him, Dennehy said.
“He expressed radical, extremist views and ideology, as well as an extreme amount of hate against the Jewish community,” Dennehy told BuzzFeed.
Amid increasing and more public instances of antisemitism, including comments by NBA star Kyrie Irving and rapper and fashion mogul Kanye West, West Coast officials also took precautions based on the East Coast threat.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood station took to Twitter to reassure the public that the agency is remaining vigilant against antisemitic attacks.
“For our Jewish residents, business owners and community leaders and members in #WeHo please rest assured, we are actively monitoring the situation and increasing patrols around sensitive areas,” the station stated tweeted.
“If you see something say something,” the Sheriff’s Department urged.
Southern California has been no stranger to antisemitic incidents in recent years.
A San Diego County synagogue was the site of a mass shooting in 2019 that killed one person and wounded three others.
In addition, antisemitic flyers alleging Jewish conspiracies related to COVID-19 and other hot-button issues have been distributed in Southern California numerous times over the preceding couple of years, and banners on the 405 Freeway expressed antisemitic propaganda.
The New York City area has also seen its share of such incidents, some of them deadly.
In 2019, two assailants motivated by anti-Jewish hate killed a police officer, then drove to a kosher market in Jersey City and killed three more people, before being slain in a gun battle with police.
Five years ago, two New Jersey men were sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted for a series of attacks in 2012 that included the firebombings of two synagogues. They also threw a Molotov cocktail into the home of a rabbi as he slept with his wife and children.
In 2019, a man stabbed five people at a Hanukkah celebration at a rabbi’s home in an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City, fatally wounding one person.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, said he was “concerned and outraged” by the latest threat against Jews.
“I am deeply concerned and outraged by today’s alert from the FBI,” Gottheimer said. “This is what happens after years of antisemitic comments from public figures,” he added, citing recent comments by West and Irving.
The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks antisemitic incidents and bias, said such occurrences reached an all-time high in 2021.