By Marcy Oster
(JTA) — Chabad emissaries around the world have been warned to be on “high alert” in the wake of the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
The Chabad-Lubavitch Security Commission, in an email dated Jan.2, warned that Chabad centers could be targets of retaliation by the Islamic Republic.
The email, published on a website for Chabad emissaries, was sent the same day as the U.S. airstrike that killed Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Force, which supports a number of regional militias and is allied with terrorist groups targeting Israel, including Hezbollah and Hamas.
“Soleimani’s death will likely mark a major escalation in a simmering conflict between the U.S. and Iran and there is a strong likelihood that Iran will retaliate whether directly or indirectly. Although there is no information at this time to suggest a direct threat to Chabad centers as a result of this escalation, as in past conflicts, there exists a concern that the current situation and tensions could contribute to a heightened risk and threat environment for Jewish facilities and Chabad centers,” the email said.
The risk of such attacks “may be exacerbated should military action escalate in coming days and weeks,” it added.
The message urges emissaries “to maintain a heightened awareness when out in public and in and around your Chabad House. Report any suspicious behavior or activity to the nearest law enforcement personnel.”
The Chabad security commission was established in the wake of the 2008 attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai, which left 6 dead, including Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg. The Chabad House was among 12 targeted locations in coordinated attacks by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organization based in Pakistan.
Some 4,900 Chabad-Lubavitch emissary families operate 3,500 Chabad institutions in 100 countries and territories.
Main Photo: The Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, located at 770 Eastern Parkway. New York, N.Y. (Wikimedia Commons)