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Catholic Charities received death threats over refugee

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BATON ROUGE - Catholic Charities told WBRZ Tuesday the organization received threats, including death threats, over efforts to help resettle a Syrian refugee in the Baton Rouge area earlier this summer.

Louisiana State Police and Catholic Charities discussed the threats during an impromptu news conference Tuesday evening.

"A phone call came into this office this afternoon, in regard to threatening members and people involved in this program," said Col. Mike Edmonson. "We've since learned from other fusion centers around the south that there's other, similar type of threats."

State Police says it is taking these threats seriously. What the caller said is unknown, but it did come from out of state.

Catholic Charities told WBRZ Monday the organization helped resettle a Syrian refugee briefly a few months ago. The group said that refugee left Baton Rouge to meet family in Washington D. C., and it is not their policy to track them after that.

Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order this week instructing state agencies not to assist with the resettlement of any future Syrian refugees in Louisiana. The governor said he wants the federal government not to send any more refugees to the state, but Jindal does not have the legal authority to prevent that from happening.

State Police says it got involved after the executive order was handed down and is asking for more transparency between all agencies about refugees.

"We simply found out that the state department was not sharing information on the program on a local level," said Edmonson. "That's unacceptable to us. We need to get better at that."

Jindal also ordered the Louisiana State Police to prevent any possible threats against Louisiana. State Police have since been asking questions about the movements of the 14 refugees the U. S. State Department said were placed in Louisiana in 2015.

Opposition to the acceptance of Syrian refugees spiked after terror attacks in Paris which killed 129 people and wounded hundreds more. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, and witnesses said the attackers mentioned France's aerial campaign against IS targets in Syria during their attack. Investigators said they also recovered what may have been a forged Syrian passport used by one of the attackers.

President Barack Obama said he wants the U. S. to take in 10,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war, which the United Nations said has been responsible for an estimated 220,000 deaths. Fighters for the Islamic State have previously stated their goal is to prevent refugees from fleeing Syria. Obama said not taking in refugees would be a betrayal of America's values.

State Police says it is investigating any threats and it will take them a couple days to do so.



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