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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Escalating violence in Gaza increasing chatter of possible terror attack in New York, intelligence report says

NEW YORK — CBS News learned Monday of increased threats of a possible terror attack in New York City as a direct result of the escalating violence in the Middle East

Gov. Kathy Hochul is already taking action to beef up security and increase staffing of the Joint Terrorism Task Force following a new threat assessment by the New York State Intelligence Center that violence in Gaza is driving chatter about targets in New York

“I am working hard at the state level with the control I have. I’ll be talking about this tomorrow, about exactly what we’re doing, and how many online threats we’ve uncovered, how many have been investigated, what the outcome is,” said Hochul. 

The governor spoke about new steps she’ll be taking to deal with online threats and radicalization, even as CBS News obtained a new threat assessment which points to “an increasing terror threat to NYS.” 

The intelligence center warned that the spread of antisemitic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric on social media is fueling an increase in hate crimes targeting Jews, Muslims and Arabs. 

“The expansion of Israeli operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and increase in civilian casualties raises the likelihood that violent extremist threat actors will seek to conduct attacks against targets in the West, with New York State being a focus. Terrorist messaging has placed focus on attacking ‘soft targets’ such as protests, group gatherings, and other public events,” the report said. 

Last week, Hochul earmarked $2.5 million to add additional State Police investigators to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City, Albany, Buffalo and Rochester. 

“We are working with all law enforcement, federal, state, and local, statewide. These are not just New York City events,” said Hochul. 

“Our most immediate concern is that violent extremists, individuals or small groups, will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “That includes not just homegrown violent extremists, inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities. We’ve already seen that with the individual we arrested last week in Houston.” 

The number of bias incidents investigated by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force increased by 124% in October, led by a 214% spike in anti-Jewish incidents.

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