Hezbollah Threats Put Jews on Alert

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 20, 2008, issue of February 22, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Washington - Jewish communities worldwide went on heightened alert this week, following threats by Hezbollah to avenge the assassination last week of Imad Mugniyah, a longtime senior leader of the terrorist group.

In the United States, the FBI sent out alerts to field offices and law enforcement agencies nationwide to increase awareness of the heightened possibility of attacks against Jewish targets. Jewish institutions were advised to check their security procedures and remain vigilant.

While urging vigilance, American security officials emphasized that there is no specific threat and no intelligence pointing to the possibility of an imminent Hezbollah attack against Jewish targets in the United States.

“It’s all a matter of balance,” said Paul Goldenberg, executive director of the Secure Community Network, which provides Jewish institutions with security information and guidance. “We don’t want people to panic following the threats of [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah, but this also does not mean Jewish institutions should lower their guard.”

Hezbollah has in the past demonstrated its ability to target Jewish institutions far from the Middle East. In 1992 it car bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29, and two years later it again hit the Argentine capital, killing 85 at the AMIA Jewish community center; Mugniyeh was considered a suspect in both attacks. Hezbollah has also carried out deadly attacks against Americans, but they have all been outside the United States, and the terrorist group has reportedly shown little to no activity in America.

During the funeral last week for Mugniyah, who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus, Nasrallah warned that the group would retaliate against Israel “anywhere,” prompting concern that Hezbollah will target Israeli and Jewish institutions and individuals outside Israel.

Following Nasrallah’s speech, the Secure Community Network convened a conference call with 45 security directors at Jewish federations around the country. Later that day, the network put out a community-wide alert urging Jewish institutions to “reinforce and encourage all to revisit your security preparedness, plans, access controls and awareness operations at this time.”

While no immediate threat is apparent, Goldenberg points to the 2006 attack on the offices of Seattle’s Jewish federation as a warning sign.

“The community has been a victim of violence carried out in the name of jihad,” he said of the attack, in which a gunman killed one employee and wounded six others during that summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. “There are people here who agree with Hezbollah ideologically.”

According to Goldenberg, in recent years there were several instances in which Jewish institutions in America appear to have been been surveyed in what he and others suggest may have been preparation for possible attacks.

The FBI issued a bulletin Friday to 18,000 state and local law enforcement officials, saying that “while retaliation in the U.S. homeland is unlikely,” there is still a need to increase awareness due to Hezbollah’s past reactions to similar events. Two days earlier, the FBI sent out an alert to its joint terrorism task forces, calling on them to monitor activity of suspected Hezbollah supporters in the United States.

An alert was also issued by the Israeli government to its diplomatic missions around the world and to Israelis traveling abroad.

At the same time, Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, projected resolve during a visit to Washington last week.

“Israel is a strong country, the Jewish people are strong and our answer to terror is clear,” she said. “We will not panic because of threats voiced by a terrorist.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.