Extremist groups encourage members to spread coronavirus to police, Jews: FBI alert

NEW YORK -- Extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups, have encouraged members to spread COVID-19 to police officers and Jews, according to an FBI report obtained by ABC News.

"Members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions," according to the alert issued by the FBI's New York office Thursday.

Intercepted messages from these groups show members were asked to use spray bottles filled with body fluids to attack police. Others were directed to spread to Jews by going to "any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship."

"From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus virus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their own conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms," said Michael Masters, the head of an umbrella group that coordinates security for Jewish groups and synagogues around the country, called Secure Communities Network, told ABC News.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual report on extremist groups said its count of white nationalist groups has risen 55% over the past three years, from 100 in 2017 to 148 in 2018 to 155 in 2019.

Many of these white nationalists are embracing "accelerationism," a fringe philosophy that promotes mass violence to fuel society's collapse, the law center said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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