San Francisco makes 'attractive target' on New Year's Eve: FBI report

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, December 28, 2023
SF makes 'attractive target' in NYE threat assessment: report
San Francisco makes an "attractive target" in FBI's New Year's Eve threat assessment report.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As cities across the country gear up for New Year's Eve festivities, the FBI Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies are now pinpointing San Francisco as a direct source of concern.

According to a threat assessment obtained by ABC News, New Year's Eve in San Francisco "remains an attractive target for foreign terrorist organizations, homegrown violent extremists, and domestic violent extremists" as well as lone offenders.

The report indicates that high profile events with big crowds and media coverage like the New Year's Eve fireworks celebration could be a concern.

MORE: These Bay Area transit services are offering free rides for New Year's Eve

Right now, there are no specific reported threats.

San Francisco attracts big crowds around the clock and throughout the year.

On New Year's Eve, as many as 150,000 people are expected to turn out to catch the fireworks display.

Many of them will also be checking out the Embarcadero, the Ferris Wheel, and Pier 39.

While the report does not offer information about any specific threats, it indicates that "protecting the city of San Francisco's coastline from threat actors remains one of the top maritime priorities during the San Francisco New Year's Eve fireworks celebration. Barges along the coastline used for the fireworks display could be attractive targets for malicious actors."

MORE: Authorities beef up security in San Francisco shopping districts during holiday season

Jim Dudley is a retired San Francisco Police Deputy Chief. He dealt with homeland security, special events, and critical incident management.

He looked at the report.

"In San Francisco, I think the threat would be in more concentrated areas where large crowds would gather," said Dudley. "This is the time of year where you've got not only thousands of celebrants at these locations, but you also have the international eyes of the media."

Dudley believes some might use the platform to make a political statement.

Pro-Palestinian protesters for example shut down the bay bridge for hours during APEC.

VIDEO: 80 protesters who blocked Bay Bridge to be charged with 5 misdemeanors, SF DA says

Protesters who blocked the Bay Bridge last month calling for a cease-fire in Gaza will face charges and be arraigned in batches starting mid-December.

The report indicates more threats since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and ongoing war.

According to the document: "We assess that lone offenders inspired by, or reacting to, the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities in the United States."

On Nov. 4, an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was injured in a hit-and-run on campus in what is being investigated by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office as a hate crime. .

MORE: Sheriff releases sketch of Stanford hate crime hit-and-run suspect

Dudley says the report looks similar to previous briefings in past years.

He says the "all hazards assessment" includes drones, cyberattacks, weather, and lone gunmen possibilities.

But he says this year, the new dimension is the Middle East conflict and the related protests.

This being a significant holiday, significant numbers of people gathering in high profile infrastructure areas, but you also have the landscape of international conflicts.

Law enforcement will be on high alert.

And you are asked to do your part. Authorities say report suspicious activity. "If you see something, say something."

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