FBI Coordinating With Colleges to Prevent Violence Amid Heightened Pro-Palestinian Protests: Wray

FBI Coordinating With Colleges to Prevent Violence Amid Heightened Pro-Palestinian Protests: Wray
The FBI is investigating a recent string of bomb threats against New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts, a top target of Beijing. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

FBI Director Chris Wray announced on Tuesday that the bureau is coordinating with colleges throughout the country to detect potential anti-Semitic threats and acts of violence amid waves of protests in opposition to Israel.

Mr. Wray revealed the bureau’s coordination efforts with U.S. colleges during an interview with NBC News on Tuesday, saying the bureau is “keenly focused on working with state and local law enforcement, campus law enforcement, and others to try to make sure that we stay ahead” of any threats of violence.

He said the FBI is not monitoring specific protest events per se but that the bureau is looking for specific threats of violence that may arise on college campuses amid heightened protest activity.

In recent days, NYPD officers were called to New York University (NYU) to disperse pro-Palestinian activists gathered at Gould Plaza. At Yale, nearly 50 students were issued summonses after they “did not comply” with multiple requests from Yale’s police department to show identification during an Israel-Palestine protest event. Columbia University also canceled in-person classes and switched to remote instruction on Monday as pro-Palestinian activists have set up encampments around the campus.

The heightened protests come nearly seven months into Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, an operation brought on in response to Hamas terrorist attacks across southern Israel on Oct. 7.

More than 1,100 people were killed in the Oct. 7 attacks, according to an Israeli review of the attack. In the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-linked Gaza Health Ministry has estimated around 34,000 people have been killed, and around 77,000 have been wounded, though the exact toll casualty remains difficult to verify amid the ongoing fighting.

Wray Highlights Recent Threats

There have been other protest events on U.S. college campuses at earlier points in the ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip.

These more recent protest events began ahead of Passover week, a Jewish holiday. Passover began on Monday and ends on April 30.

Speaking at a virtual event last week hosted by the Secure Community Network (SCN), a Jewish community security organization, Mr. Wray said, “We at the Bureau remain particularly concerned that lone actors could target large gatherings, high profile events, or symbolic or religious locations for violence.”

During that SCN event, Mr. Wray said the number of anti-Jewish hate crime probes the FBI had opened between Oct. 7 and Jan. 30 was three times more than the bureau had opened in the four months before Oct. 7. He said many of these incidents had included fake bomb and shooter threats.

“When hoaxes target synagogues, Jewish community centers and other affiliate facilities across the U.S., they not only disrupt whatever activities are ongoing, they also intimidate people and terrorize entire communities and they stretch local law enforcement resources, straining law enforcement’s ability to respond to other threats,” Mr. Wray said.

Mr. Wray also told the SCN event that the bureau had observed a “rogues gallery” of designated foreign terrorist organizations that had called for attacks on the United States, including Al Qaeda and ISIS elements.

Calls for National Guard Deployments on Campuses

At least two Republican lawmakers have suggested heightened law enforcement and even National Guard efforts to disperse campus protests.

“Eisenhower sent the 101st to Little Rock,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote on social media platform X on Monday, referring to the 1957 deployment of U.S. troops to enforce racial integration at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. “It’s time for [President Joe Biden] to call out the National Guard at our universities to protect Jewish Americans.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) described protest events at Columbia University as “nascent pogroms” a term referring to an organized violent riot intended to kill or expel a targeted ethnic group, and Jewish people in particular.

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight,” Mr. Cotton wrote in a Monday morning X post. “If [New York City Mayor Eric Adams] won’t send the NYPD and [New York Gov. Kathy Hochul] won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

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