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US Military Religious Freedom Foundation members, Jewish leader face death threats

Law enforcement probes online postings offering $5,000 for murder of group members, who advocate for freedom from religious coercion in military, an extra $1,000 for Jewish victim

An undated portrait of Mikey Weinstein. (MRFF via JTA)
An undated portrait of Mikey Weinstein. (MRFF via JTA)

JTA — Postings offering $5,000 to kill members of a group that advocates for freedom from religious coercion in the military, which include an extra $1,000 if the victim is Jewish, have drawn federal law enforcement attention, the Jewish leader of the group said.

“We are working very closely with federal especially federal and local law enforcement agencies to try to track these people down,” Mikey Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The threats, posted Saturday on the comments section of the foundation’s website, say “$5,000 will be payed [sic] to anyone who beh3ads [sic] an MRFF member” and “A thousand more if they are a kike.”

The foundation’s webmaster removed the threats. Weinstein shared with JTA screenshots and automatic alerts that he receives from the website as verification of the postings.

He said the poster is likely a “troll,” or provocateur, but because soliciting a murder is a crime and could be taken seriously by a reader, the involvement of law enforcement and the increase in security was necessary. Weinstein, who receives frequent death threats and whose house has been vandalized, said this latest threat “crossed a Rubicon.”

“Law enforcement made a point yesterday after we got together with them on this to make sure that everyone is particularly careful,” he said. “They’re trolling for assassins, and they’re advertising payment for assassins with a bonus if the people that they behead happen to be Jewish.”

Chris Rodda, the MRFF’s senior researcher, tracked the poster’s IP address and said he or she or the group has previously threatened Weinstein with death. “This latest spate of threats is reaching a whole new level in its overtness and danger to you and everyone else associated with MRFF,” Rodda said in a note to Weinstein summarizing her analysis.

The poster pretended to be from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil liberties group with which Weinstein’s group has worked. Rodda has established that the poster has nothing to do with CAIR, Weinstein said, but he would not provide further details on the record.

Weinstein and his organization have scored multiple victories in their efforts to get the military to clamp down on proselytization and religious coercion in the military. The group has become a bogeyman for the religious right and its backers in Congress.

Weinstein’s son, Casey, a veteran like his father, is a state lawmaker in Ohio who has faced harassment from the religious right.

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