In a recent confidential memo obtained by ABC News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stated that a nationwide swatting spree targeting almost 200 Jewish institutions was likely a coordinated effort by an entity based outside of the United States. Assistant FBI Director Cathy Milhoan wrote in the memo that the threats appeared to be connected based on similar language and specific email tradecraft used. Furthermore, the threats were believed to originate from outside the country.
It is important to note that none of the email threats involved actual explosive devices or posed a credible risk of harm to congregants. However, the FBI is taking these threats seriously and has launched investigations into more than 30 of its field offices to address these violations of federal laws.
The Secure Community Network (SCN), a non-profit organization that advises U.S. Jewish institutions on safety and security, reported a "record number" of 199 swatting incidents and false bomb threats between Friday and Saturday. These incidents were tracked across several states, with California experiencing the highest number of incidents at 93, followed by Arizona with 62. Connecticut, Colorado, and Washington state also reported swatting incidents.
SCN highlighted a significant increase in swatting incidents compared to the previous year, with a rise of over 540% in 2023. This year alone, more than 449 swatting incidents and bomb threats have taken place. The months of October and November saw a 290% increase compared to the same period last year, with a record 772 incidents logged, according to SCN's press release.
The FBI, emphasizing the importance of community safety, expressed gratitude for the collaboration and partnership of law enforcement agencies in addressing these threats. As investigations continue, the FBI remains committed to ensuring the safety of faith-based communities.