WASHINGTON (JTA) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and top U.S. security officials told Jewish community leaders there is no imminent threat of an attack on Jewish targets in the United States.
"Officials on the call said government and security agencies are closely monitoring intelligence information amid rising Mideast tensions, but confirmed that there are no immediate threats directed at a specific target in the U.S. at this time," said a statement by the Jewish Federations of North America, which co-hosted the call with DHS and the Secure Community Network, the group that partners with JFNA to consult with Jewish communities on security.
Napolitano and top officials of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the White House spoke for an hour and "stressed that there is currently no indication of any such threat, and urged the Jewish community to continue to engage in normal activity," the JFNA release said.
A senior Homeland Security official said that Napolitano had been concerned by the level of worry in the Jewish community arising from a number of aborted attempts overseas to target Jewish institutions, as well as recent arson attacks on synagogues in northern New Jersey.
"What she was hoping to achieve was to reduce the level of anxiety," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Noting the "diverse" array of possible threats against Jewish targets, both domestic and foreign, the official said that "none of these may be connected, but when looked at in totality, that is the source of the major concern in the Jewish community."
Authorities, the official said, were "monitoring intelligence channels and working on a federal level and with state and local law enforcement to follow up on any security issue, foreign or domestic." Events related to recent heightened tensions between Israel and Iran also were being scrutinized, the official said.
Officials on the call, which drew more than 200 listeners through the JFNA and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, stressed awareness programs, including the joint SCN-DHS "If you see it, say it" publicity program urging awareness of suspicious articles and behavior.
Listeners also were directed to SCN’s recently updated web-based "Homeland Security and Preparedness Training Center."