While the world is hunkered down amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish community and cops have an extra concern piled on: extremist groups out to do them harm by "trying to weaponize" the virus, as Rolling Stone puts it. Per an intelligence alert sent Thursday from the FBI's New York office to local police agencies, members of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and other racist groups are being encouraged, if they themselves become infected with the virus, to spread it to Jews and police officers via "bodily fluids and personal interactions," specifically with the use of spray bottles, ABC News reports. The alert notes these extremists are being told to try to hasten this spread by going after cops on the streets, as well as members of the Jewish community in "any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses, and places of worship."
A weekly intelligence brief sent out last month by a Homeland Security division noted similar tactics, with extremists talking about spitting on elevator buttons, leaving "saliva on door handles" at neighborhood FBI offices, and spreading the virus in "nonwhite" areas, per Yahoo News. The Hill notes a recent Anti-Defamation League report that extremists are also spreading conspiracy theories "that Jews are responsible for creating the virus, are spreading it to increase their control over a decimated population, or they are profiting off it." These theories are being disseminated not only on extremist-friendly platforms like Gab and 4chan, but also on more mainstream social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Among those pushing these messages: conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has posted videos on Telegram claiming that "globalists" (often code for Jews) have engineered the coronavirus. (Read more coronavirus stories.)