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Friday, November 21, 2014

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Terror threat level unchanged: CIJA

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Shimon Fogel

TORONTO  — Synagogues and other Jewish institutions should implement their standard security protocols as the High Holidays approach, but there’s no evidence that the threat level has recently increased, according to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

“We have, as we always do, connected with local and national police authorities in Canada,” said CIJA chief executive Shimon Fogel. “There is no indication as to any increased threat or increased chatter” that would prompt a heightened alert level, he said.

Fogel was commenting after Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned that terrorist groups could attack Israeli and Jewish targets around the world in the coming weeks.

The Times of Israel reported last week that the bureau raised concerns over terrorist acts timed to coincide with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The agency also noted that the anniversary of the 9/11 attack could mark “a favoured period” for Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups to attempt acts of terrorism.

The Times termed the bureau’s warning “unusually shrill and widespread,” but noted that it was largely aimed at Israelis travelling abroad.

Fogel called the warning “the sort of biannual kind of general alert – with good reason – that the Israeli security establishment puts forward, particularly for Israelis.”

Last summer, five Israeli tourists travelling in Burgas, Bulgaria, along with their Bulgarian driver, were killed in a bomb attack. Hezbollah is believed to have been behind the attack

The counter-terrorism advisory urged Israelis to stay away from popular vacation destinations, such as the Sinai Peninsula as well as a number of Mideastern, East Asian and African states. There was no specific reference to Canada.

“We issue alerts to community institutions, particularly synagogues near the High Holidays, to make sure they have security protocols in place,” said Fogel.

But there are no specific threats on the horizon. “If there is a change in the profile, [police] would advise us along with the steps we could take,” he added.

 

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