Images of Charlie Kirk, Sean Hannity, and Jesse Watters against a yellow background

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Right-wing media fearmongered about a “day of jihad” coming to the US despite a lack of evidence

  • Update (10/16/23): The Illinois man who fatally stabbed a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy had reportedly been worried about the “day of jihad” and had “been listening to conservative talk radio about the Israel-Hamas war and became increasingly concerned about his Muslim tenants.”

    Right-wing media spent days fearmongering about potential mass violence happening on Friday after a former Hamas political leader was reportedly mistranslated as advocating for a “day of jihad.” Despite a lack of evidence of a related threat to the United States, some called for increased surveillance and others gave advice on how to best avoid an attack. 

    Homeland security officials said there was no evidence of a “specific and credible” threat to Americans, and no “jihad”-inspired attacks appeared to occur, though there was a reported anti-Muslim attack in Illinois, in which a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was killed.

  • A former leader of Hamas called for protests in the “Islamic world,” but officials say there was no related “specific and credible” threat to the U.S., though there was one reported anti-Muslim attack in Illinois

    • On October 11, Khaled Meshaal, a former political leader of Hamas, released a video calling for people to “head to the squares and streets” for a day of protests in “the Arab and Islamic world” on Friday, October 13. Meshaal urged followers “who teach jihad” to use this “moment for the application,” but did not explicitly use the term “day of jihad.” Wired reported: “While Meshaal very specifically made the calls for protests in ‘the Arab and Islamic worlds,’ his comments were quickly mistranslated online to become a ‘global day of jihad,’ a phrase he did not use.” [Reuters, 10/11/23; Wired, 10/13/23]
    • Experts say the term “jihad” is “not a single concept” but literally means “exerted effort” or “striving.” Interfaith Alliance and Religious Freedom Project of the First Amendment Center wrote that the term “jihad” has often been misunderstood since around the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and some extremist groups have appropriated the violent meaning. [National Geographic, 10/24/23; Southern Poverty Law Center, Learning for Justice, accessed 10/16/23]
    • On Friday, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official told reporters that they do not “at present have any specific and credible intelligence that would indicate any potential threat to the United States stemming from Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel at this time.” Newsweek reported that law enforcement in major U.S. cities stepped up security measures “while stating there have so far been no credible threats of violence associated with the so-called 'day of Jihad.'" [Miami Herald, 10/12/23; Newsweek, 10/13/23]
    • Although there was no apparent “day of jihad” in the U.S., there was at least one recorded anti-Muslim attack over the weekend. A Chicago-based landlord has been charged with a hate crime after attacking a Palestinian American family, killing a 6-year-old child and wounding his mother. [The Associated Press, 10/16/23]
  • Right-wing media promoted the “day of jihad” as a credible domestic threat, calling for people to “not leave your homes”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk used the “global day of jihad” to say that “we have invited some of the most disgusting people on the planet into the West” and he hopes “something bad does not happen tomorrow” but that “we shouldn’t be surprised” if it does. He stated that the U.S. has allowed in “an unlimited flow of foreigners that do not show our religion, our culture, our worldview” and that “we have imported the dynamite right into our country.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 10/12/23]
    • Fox News host Sean Hannity claimed that October 13 has “officially been designated as a day of jihad — that means holy war — by Hamas leaders.” Hannity also said: “What, it wasn't enough for them to brutalize southern Israel — now they want to terrorize the entire world?” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/23]
    • Fox News host Jesse Watters said that “Hamas is calling for a global day of jihad” and that “if I were the FBI, I'd start surveilling college campuses.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 10/12/23]
    • Right-wing political strategist Joey Mannarino posted that due to the call for a “Global Day of Jihad,” you should “not leave your homes that day unless there is an emergency.” Mannarino also pleaded with people to avoid “public transit," “airplanes,” and “public events.” [Twitter/X, 10/11/23]
    • Conservative commentator Dana Loesch urged Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to condemn “Hamas’s call for a global day of jihad.” [Twitter/X, 10/12/23]
    • On Newsmax, former CIA officer Mike Baker warned that during the supposed “global day of jihad,” people should “watch what happens around you” and “understand the areas you’re moving in and out of.” Guest host Lara Trump endorsed this warning, calling it “great advice.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 10/13/23]
    • Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren complained about the lack of law enforcement to “help monitor” the “international day of Jihad.” Lahren posted in full, “So tomorrow is supposed to be an international day of jihad and major cities are in desperate need of law enforcement to help monitor. Really too bad that law enforcement has been demonized and defunded thanks to the Left. Brilliant work, losers.” [Twitter/X, 10/12/23]
    • MRC Newsbusters published an article calling ABC, CBS, and NBC “cowards” for “gently cover[ing] Day of Jihad.” The article claimed that “the ‘big three’ networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC engaged in acts of cowardice by vaguely tip-toeing through security concerns for Jewish community centers, schools, and synagogues due to what a former Hamas head demanded as a day of jihad and the rampant nature of open anti-Semitism and pro-slaughter of Jews on college campuses.” [MRC Newsbusters, 10/13/23]
    • Fox News host Jeanine Pirro claimed that by “shutting down” schools and public places for the “day of rage,” the U.S. is doing “all the right things” but also showing that “we’re going to tremble if you say you are coming.” Watters responded by asking the FBI to focus on Palestinian supporters who “sound like they are about five seconds away from an act of violence.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/13/23]
    • One America News Network host Chris Boyle falsely claimed that “the leader of Hamas has issued a call to action that Friday the 13th should be a day of jihad across the world” and asked, “How many jihadis could there really be slipping past the southern border?” He also lamented, “Should I be worried about the fact that increasingly large numbers of people on the terrorist watch list are slipping past our southern border while cries for international jihad grow louder?” [One America News Network, Nights with Chris Boyle, 10/14/23
    • TheBlaze’s Jason Howerton told followers to arm themselves and to “absolutely be strapped” in preparation for a “global day of jihad.” He posted in full: “Hamas founding member is calling for a ‘global day of jihad’ on Friday. He tells his followers to sacrifice their ‘blood and souls’ for Palestine. Do not be paranoid. But absolutely be strapped.” [Twitter/X, 10/11/23]