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The inside of Trinity Church, New York

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In a startling message delivered to the “faith-based community,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warns that once religious services resume, the potential for attacks on “houses of worship” may be increased.   

“Stressors caused by the pandemic may contribute to an individual’s decision to commit an attack or influence their target of choice,” wrote DHS Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Brian Harrell in a letter obtained and published by POLITICO.  

“When you begin efforts to reconstitute services and welcome congregants back into your houses of worship, please also review your security plans and ensure procedures are in place to protect your facilities and visitors,” said Harrell. 

“Although there are no imminent or credible threats at this time, there has been an increase in online hate speech intended to encourage violence or use the ongoing situation as an excuse to spread hatred,” he added. 

The DHS letter follows a warning sent to law enforcement officials last month which suggested that “violent extremists” might take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and carry out attacks within the United States.  

“Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months,” according to the DHS  Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office intelligence bulletin.