The FBI said this week it had no information indicating a credible terrorist threat against the United States, but social media pundits who have been raising the alarm for days aren’t backing down.
Conservative social media influencers have been filling platforms such as X and Truth Social with speculation not backed by any evidence that attacks on civilians in Israel would soon be followed by similar attacks in major U.S. cities and that people should begin preparing — including by avoiding cities and purchasing firearms.
The speculation with no evidence to support it has come from former President Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and a host of right-wing commentators with big followings who issued vague warnings about imminent invasions or attacks. Many of the posts tie in a hodgepodge of Republican Party talking points on subjects such as gun rights, immigration from Asia, crime and Iran policy.
The posts show how quickly the latest bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas has upended online political debate thousands of miles away, and how it’s being used by political figures to push certain agendas and issues.
Trump, from his account on Truth Social, raised the idea of a potential threat by focusing on the unfounded claim that Hamas was coming in to the U.S. through the southern border.
“The same people that raided Israel are pouring into our once beautiful USA, through our TOTALLY OPEN SOUTHERN BORDER, at Record Numbers. Are they planning an attack within our Country?” he asked in a post Monday. The post had 30,700 “likes” as of Wednesday, according to the app.
Trump’s post-presidency office did not immediately respond to a request for more information on his post.
NBC News reported last month that U.S. border agents have taken into custody a growing number of people on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist trying to enter via the southern border, but there is no evidence that Hamas fighters who carried out attacks in Israel in recent days are pouring in from Mexico.
The theory that terrorists will sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border to attack Americans has been a recurring theme in conservative media and politics for more than 20 years, even though the perpetrators of the biggest terrorist attacks in the U.S. over that time — such as the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas — had had no connection to the southern border.
But some warnings this week weren’t even specific to the border. Trump Jr. turned the subject to gun rights, warning readers to be prepared.
“If anyone is still stupid enough to not understand why we have the 2nd amendment, have them watch any one of the hundreds of videos coming from Israel,” he wrote in a post on X on Sunday. The post got 7.8 million views, according to the view tally on X.
He followed up the next day with another post: “If you don’t yet own an AR-15 you really need to think that through right about now.” That one got 4.8 million views.
Trump Jr. did not immediately respond to a request for comment emailed to the Trump Organization, where he is executive vice president.
Laura Loomer, a far-right provocateur who’s been banned from most social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, issued her own dire prediction on X.
“Stay out of major cities. There’s going to be massive terrorist attacks in big cities over these next 14 months,” she wrote, adding a warning about a “global Islamic caliphate.” Her post got 5.1 million views on the app owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk. Loomer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Other social media accounts warned without evidence of Hamas “sleeper cells” — invoking a term that spiked in popularity after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.