Jewish groups placed on security alert


Citing an increase in threats and attacks, a U.S. Jewish security network warned its members to be alert to a “new set of circumstances.”

“The convergence and timing of several events coupled with escalating tensions in the Middle East create a new set of circumstances that have commanded our attention,” said the alert issued Tuesday by the Secure Community Network. “The current heightened threat environment poses challenges and issues, particularly when there is a need for a balanced approach to securing our institutions, agencies and organizations.”

The alert cited among other circumstances the end of the 40-day mourning period for Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah terrorist chief assassinated in Syria, and a call by Ayman al-Zawahiri, an al-Qaida chief, to “strike the interests of Jews” in retaliation for escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has denied a role in the Mughniyeh killing, but Hezbollah blames it nonetheless and has threatened to retaliate by attacking Jews outside of Israel.

“In the past 30 days, we have noted an increase in reported threats and attacks in the United States,” the alert said. “While most of these incidents are isolated, and many are still under active investigation, the increase in frequency and brazenness of threats and attacks are a cause to be more vigilant and conscientious about your security preparedness and operations.”

The alert lists seven threats and attacks since Feb. 14, and notes that the Department of Homeland Security has instructed its officials to inspect Jewish sites across the country.

The United Jewish Communities, the federations’ umbrella that has led lobbying for federal funds to increase security at Jewish institutions, said the alert underscored the threat that made such investments necessary.

“These incidents are further evidence of the risk faced by the nonprofit sector generally, and the Jewish community in particular, in the post-9/11 environment,” UJC’s Washington director, William Daroff, told JTA.

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