Organization monitors synagogue security and antisemitic threats in Chicago.

Terrorism and hatred have created a threat matrix that targets all of our religious and expression freedoms. These fundamental American constitutional rights now necessitate comprehensive protection.

This is taking place in a secure location in Chicago.

The I-Team went inside for an unprecedented look at what America’s Jewish community is doing to protect its own people, property, and, in many cases, all of us.

“Unfortunately, the bad guys only have to get it right once. We have to get it right every time “Mike Masters, CEO and National Director of Secure Community Network, stated

Masters is a former Cook County Homeland Security Chief who is now the executive director of the non-profit Secure Community Network, or SCN.

Their mesmerizing command center is buried in SCN, which bills itself as the official safety and security organization for North America’s Jewish community.

There are over 12,400 Jewish facilities being monitored across all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The new advanced intelligence center was created in collaboration with a team of technologists and academics in the aftermath of the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history, the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh four years ago Thursday, in which a gunman opened fire, killing 11 people and injuring six.

“I think we unfortunately need to assume that any facility, any organization in our community is a potential target,” Masters said.

When a situation is tagged, significant intelligence and credible threats are shared with police and other agencies, as well as members of the community.

The 24-hour operation monitors social media and the dark web, where violent extremists seek to communicate anonymously.

SCN also places security directors and advisers in areas with significant Jewish populations.

Anything that could have an impact on the Jewish community and beyond is being flagged.

“It’s possible that an armed robbery is taking place at a Jewish Day School. It could be vandalism at a synagogue, social unrest leading to protests, or some other activity affecting a Jewish facility. Then these guys get to work analyzing it and collaborating with the local security director “Master stated.

Chicago has long served as the epicenter of America’s hate groups and terror networks. Terrorist training tactics honed in the Middle East have been deployed to secret Hamas camps scattered across the Midwest over the last few decades.

The Chicago skyline was on the original Al Qaeda aircraft target list but was mysteriously spared on 9/11; then, in 2010, the area was an Isis target until federal agents intercepted bombs in printer cartridges destined for Chicago synagogues.

These are some of the reasons why analysts from the FBI, NASA, Facebook, and other organizations come to SCN.

Over the last six months, SCN team members claimed to have analyzed over 227,000 risk events.

According to the most recent FBI data, more than half of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States are directed at the Jewish community, which constitutes only a small percentage of the total population.

According to an I-Team analysis of police records, over the last three years, more than half of religious-based hate crimes in Chicago have targeted Jews.

Matt Tobias, a retired CPD deputy chief, now oversees security at Lakeview’s Anshe Emet Synagogue and the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School.

“Security can be a little unnerving,” he admitted, “however if you do it in the right way you can be safe and welcoming.”

According to Tobias, the collaboration with SCN is priceless.

“Really counts on everybody across the nation reporting suspicious activity or threats to them and to get it on the radar and to do some investigating to find out who are we dealing with?” he said.

The comprehensive program offered by Secure Community Network also includes on-site security training and active shooter drills.

Two chairs are displayed inside the organization’s headquarters as examples of everyday objects that can be used as protection.

One chair, riddled with bullet holes, is from Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.

“Those are bullet holes from the AR-15 used by the offender, in that case who entered the synagogue and killed 11 members of that synagogue,” Masters explained.

The second chair is from a more recent synagogue attack last January in Colleyville, Texas.

For more than ten hours, an armed man held hostages inside Congregation Beth Israel while livestreaming radical rants. When the rabbi thought the gunman’s guard was down, he picked up a chair and threw it, giving the hostages enough time to flee.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said he recognized the key moment thanks to SCN training.

“When your life is threatened, you must take action. So, without that instruction, I would not have had the courage, nor would I have known what to do “Cytron-Walker stated.

Houses of worship that are concerned about being attacked may be eligible for government funds. The non-profit Security Grant Program of FEMA assisted in covering the cost of protecting against faith-based threats.

“The United States remains the safest place in the world to be Jewish, but the rise in anti-Semitism over the last two decades has necessitated the development of such a system. We collaborate with other faith-based organizations. I believe that many of them are beginning to recognize the critical need for this type of organization “Masters stated.

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