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Threat to NJ synagogues ‘mitigated’ as FBI identifies ‘source of threat’

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NEW JERSEY (WABC) — The FBI said Friday that it’s identified the “source of the threat” made against “an unspecified New Jersey area synagogue.”

The person “no longer poses a danger to the community,” the FBI said.

No further specifics were provided about the individual or motive.

“Upon receipt of threat information against an unspecified New Jersey area synagogue, the FBI notified community leaders and our law enforcement partners,” the FBI statement read. “We identified the source of the threat who no longer poses a danger to the community. As always, we would like to remind the public, to remain vigilant and if they observe suspicious activity to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy thanked the FBI and state law enforcement for their quick investigative work. The governor also said the state will remain vigilant and make sure threats against any house of worship are thoroughly investigated.

“This threat violated one of the most fundamental tenets of our nation – the right to worship according to the dictates of our consciences and our sacred and holy traditions,” Murphy said. “We will always endeavor to ensure that every New Jerseyan of every faith may continue to live, study, and worship without fear for their safety.”

The FBI’s Newark Field office said Thursday it had received “credible information of a broad threat to synagogues in New Jersey.”

A tweet from the office said, “We ask at this time that you take all security precautions to protect your community and facility. We will share more information as soon as we can. Stay alert. In case of emergency call police.”

The nature of the threat was not immediately clear, but law enforcement sources told ABC News it was not a bomb threat.

After the FBI issued the broad warning, synagogues across the entire Tri-State area acted.

“At its peak yesterday, we had nearly 200 kids while this threat was going on and school went on for all of them, we were just more vigilant,” security coordinator Ron Rosenberg said.

“I think the days of synagogues having an unlocked and unguarded door in the United States is sadly, I think are over,” Rabbi Robert Scheinberg said.

In Hoboken, they already hired private year-round security years ago, sadly calling it their new normal. They regularly work with police to protect the community and practice for emergencies.

Despite the recent threat, hundreds of students and families continue to show up at the synagogue’s school, and the rabbi expects even more to be seated in the pews on Saturday. It’s a show of strength and resilience from a community that has recently been the target of hate.

“I wish I had a magic wand that would tell people exactly how to be brotherly and kind to everybody and put all that gate aside, I don’t and until that day, I’ll play my role in making this place safer,” Rosenberg said.

Sources told ABC News on Friday that the young adult interviewed in connection with the threat told the FBI he dislikes Jewish people, is angry but had no plans to do anything harmful.

The man, who was not identified, has not apologized for actions that sent police scrambling to add patrols outside synagogues, the sources said.

The young man posted to a social media site that is already monitored by law enforcement because it is a frequent site used for antisemitic discussion.

According to ABC News, the post was written as if an attack had already occurred and in a style used by previous mass shooters, which raised the level of concern and triggered the FBI tweet out of an abundance of caution.

Once he was located, agents realized there was no threat although they are continuing to look into his background.

In New York, Mayor Adams and Police Commissioner Sewell met virtually Friday with Jewish leaders to discuss recent threats and to outline precautions New York City is taking to ensure the safety of the Jewish community.

“We are continuing to monitor the threats made against synagogues in New Jersey and stand ready to assist our neighbors in any way that we can,” Adams tweeted.

The FBI is urging the community to remain cautious and reminding anyone if they see anything suspicious to report it.

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