Attorney General Merrick Garland visited the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City on Monday, when he shared brief public remarks about his office’s role in securing the safe return of American hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.
During his visit, Garland met with U.S. Attorney Damian Williams as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement leaders to discuss the issues in their community. The visit is part of the attorney general’s plan to visit other U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country.
‘While these kinds of meetings between the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners are always important, the current global threat environment makes this one particularly urgent,’ Garland started his remarks.
‘Over the past several days, over 40 hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th have been released. Among them was Avigail Idan, a 4-year-old American,’ he continued. ‘We welcome Avigail’s return and hope to see the return of more hostages in the days to come.’
The attorney general, flanked by Williams, said the department’s Victims Services Office, as well as corresponding victim’s services offices within the FBI, were standing ready to ‘provide assistance to released Americans and their families.’
‘We also remain committed to working with our partners across the U.S. government to secure the return of all missing Americans, including those still held hostage. As always, but especially now, the Justice Department is remaining vigilant in the face of the potential threats of hate-fueled violence and terrorism.’
Garland also said his department was focused on activity at home that may be influenced by the Israel-Hamas war and the wider tensions across the Middle East.
‘We are closely monitoring the impact that the conflict in the Middle East may have on inspiring Foreign Terrorist Organizations, homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists, both here in the United States and abroad,’ he said. ‘All of us have also seen a sharp increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish Muslim and Arab communities across our country since October 7.’
The attorney general then specifically mentioned the investigation out of Vermont, where three Palestinian men were attacked.
‘There is understandable fear in communities across the country,’ Garland said. ‘Even as we speak, the ATF and the FBI are investigating the tragic shooting of three men of Palestinian descent and Vermont. That investigation, including whether this is a hate crime, is ongoing.’
Authorities arrested a suspect in connection with the attack.
‘No person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of hate fueled violence. fulfilling that promise motivates us every day,’ he added.
Garland said investigative updates out of Vermont would be ‘coming soon.’
‘While we are confronting this elevated global threat environment, we also know we cannot lose sight of many other challenges and includes working closely with our law enforcement partners to combat violent crime,’ the attorney general continued.
He also provided examples of how his office was continuing to find ways to curb the flow of deadly fentanyl.
‘This office also has an important part of the Justice Department’s broader strategy to disrupt and dismantle fentanyl by attacking every link in the chain of the trafficking networks,’ he said.