More than 400 Jewish facilities across the US have received false bomb threats over email since Saturday.
Oren Segal told CNN they believe one person or a small number of individuals were behind the series of threats.
The email messages contained several similarities, Segal – who had seen the messages – told CNN, including the nature of the alleged threats, and variations in the name of a group claiming to be responsible for them.
While the threats were all deemed to be hoaxes, Segal added, “the Jewish community doesn’t take any threat lightly. We don’t have the luxury to ignore them.”
The Secure Community Network, a non-profit tracking threats against Jewish communities, earlier reported more than 200 bomb threats and “swatting calls” were made against Jewish institutions.
According to the network, the false threats and swatting incidents – prank calls made to authorities to lure them to a location under the false pretense a crime has been committed or is in progress – targeted facilities in California, Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Washington, and other states.
The FBI is aware of the hoaxes and is assisting local law enforcement in the investigations, the agency said in a statement to CNN, noting there is no information to suggest a current, credible threat.
“The FBI is aware of the numerous hoax incidents wherein a bomb threat at a synagogue is made. The FBI takes hoax threats very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk,” the agency said.
“While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention.”
The incidents are happening days after the end of Hanukkah and amid a spike in threats against the Jewish community documented since October, when the war in Gaza began.
The bomb threats and swatting incidents made against Jewish institutions saw a 541% increase this year over 2022, according to the Secure Community Network.
The threats and swatting incidents occurred in states across the country, according to the Secure Community Network, as police departments reported some of the threats in their communities.
In Massachusetts, “approximately 30” temples and Jewish cultural centers received “some sort of threat communication” over the weekend, according to state police communications director David Procopio.
“We did not respond to all of them, but our Bomb Squad did respond to several and conducted sweeps of the facilities,” Procopio said. “Many were handled on the local level by local police and firefighters. All are believed to have been hoaxes; no explosives or hazards were located at any site.”
He added the state intelligence center and anti-terrorism unit are working with the FBI to investigate the source of the threats and the hate crimes unit is working with religious leaders across the state.
The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama said in a Facebook post they responded to a bomb threat at the Congregation Mayim Chayim. The office said the threat was not credible and the area is “considered safe.”
The Roswell Police Department in Georgia also reported on Facebook two local synagogues received threats. They found nothing suspicious, according to the Facebook post.
And in central Alabama, six Jewish institutions received bomb threats, according to a Facebook post from the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama. “The actual threat level was deemed low but we must always respond out of an abundance of caution,” wrote the group.