New Jersey raises threat posed by white supremacists after increase in attacks
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New Jersey raises threat posed by white supremacists after increase in attacks

Threat level goes from moderate to high, months after deadly shooting in Jersey City kosher market and amid reported 65% rise in bias incidents in 2019

Responders at the scene of a shooting that left multiple people dead at a kosher market, December 11, 2019, in Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Responders at the scene of a shooting that left multiple people dead at a kosher market, December 11, 2019, in Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

The US state of New Jersey on Friday increased the level of threat posed by white supremacist extremists from moderate to high amid a rise in hate crimes, including anti-Semitism, local media reported.

“The threat from white supremacist extremists is also high due to the number of threats, plots, and attacks in 2019,” a report by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness said. “In 2020, white supremacist extremists are likely to cite accelerationism as a motivation for future violent acts, and recruitment efforts promoting extremist ideology continue throughout the State.”

The report listed the threat posed by Islamic terror groups such as Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas and Hezbollah as “low.”

“The inability of foreign terrorist organizations to conduct attacks in the United States ranks them as a low threat to New Jersey,” the report said. “While the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is significant, the group will likely operate similarly under its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi.”

Anarchist, anti-government, black separatist, militia and sovereign citizen extremists were said to pose a moderate threat level.

New Jersey authorities last month said that based on preliminary figures, 944 bias incidents were reported in the state in 2019, a 65 percent increase from the previous year.

Orthodox Jewish men mourn during the funeral service of Leah Mindel Ferencz who was killed in a kosher market that was the site of a gun battle in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

According to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, it was the largest number of reported bias crimes since 1996, and the largest year-over-year increase since bias reporting standards were implemented in 1991.

Among recent cases of anti-Semitism in New Jersey are a shooting at a kosher deli in Jersey City on December 10, in which a policeman and three other people were killed, and a swastika and the words “white power” being spray-painted earlier this month on a Jewish-owned business in Jackson.

The Anti-Defamation League earlier this month released a report showing that incidents of white supremacist propaganda distributed across the US jumped by more than 120% between 2018 and last year, making 2019 the second straight year that the circulation of propaganda material has more than doubled.

The ADL’s Center on Extremism reported 2,713 cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups, including fliers, posters and banners, compared with 1,214 cases in 2018. The printed propaganda distributed by white supremacist organizations includes material that directly spreads messages of discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ people and other minority communities — but also items with their prejudice obscured by a focus on gauzier pro-America imagery.

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