Terrorists might potentially take advantage of the global coronavirus pandemic and plot attacks on Americans and stressed U.S. healthcare facilities, a Department of Homeland Security memo warns.
“Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets, and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months,” a DHS intelligence bulletin read, ABC News reported.
The memo was sent to U.S. local law enforcement by the Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.
Currently, per Monday’s memo, there is “no information indicating any active plotting is underway,” but there are intelligence reports noting chatter and disinformation campaigns amid the U.S, health crisis.
FBI Director Chris Wray had reported via video message agents are going to be more vigilant in monitoring the situation as it might unfold.
“With all the worry and uncertainty out there, we want the public to know that there are still things they can count on: We’re here, and we’re going to stay here, to protect them, no matter what,” Wray said, per the report. “Because our criminal and national security adversaries sure aren’t going to take a day off – whether that’s for the coronavirus or, for that matter, anything else.”
The DHS warning cited a weekly ISIS newsletter that had called out for attacks on already-stressed healthcare systems.
The memo also warns white supremacists online have “advocated for violence against a range of targets, including critical infrastructure and faith-based and minority communities – including Asian Americans in response to the COVID outbreak.”