National security officials warned in an intelligence bulletin issued Tuesday that extremist groups are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to incite violence and bolster racist and anti-government narratives.
The bulletin — from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Center — cites threats from an array of hate groups aimed at minorities.
It also predicts that spaces like hospitals and grocery stores could be potential targets — as well as police officers enforcing stay-at-home orders.
The background: The four-page document, which was obtained by CNN, is the latest in a string of warnings from the national security apparatus about the threat from extremist groups as the coronavirus has exploded across the country and upended facets of daily life.
Law enforcement have already responded to two extremist plots in recent days, including a train engineer in California who allegedly derailed his train nearby a naval hospital ship that he thought was being used in a government takeover, and a Missouri man who was accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb at a hospital treating coronavirus patients, the bulletin says.
Reports of attacks against Asian people have also intensified in the US after the outbreak began in China.
Extremist groups: In the bulletin, the agencies write that some extremist groups have blamed China for the spread of the virus, concluding that hate crimes against Asians will likely increase over the next two to three months.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories claiming that Jews and Israel are responsible for the manufacturing and spread of the virus have also proliferated in some hate group circles, the bulletin notes, heightening the risk of violence against Jews in the country.
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