FBI director warns of threats against Americans from those inspired by Hamas attack on Israel

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on threats to the homeland, Tuesday, October 8.  August 31, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

(Stephanie Scarbrough/Associated Press)

FBI director warns of threats against Americans from those inspired by Hamas attack on Israel

Israel-Hamas

LINDSAY WITHURST

Oct. 31, 2023

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Tuesday that Hamas’ rampage in Israel could lead to violence in the US. He told lawmakers that multiple foreign extremist groups have called for attacks on Americans and the West in recent weeks.

We believe that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration unlike anything we have seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago, Wray said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Wray provided his most detailed and ominous assessment of potential threats to the US since October 1. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli soldiers and civilians.

His reference to the Islamic State, a throwback to the days when the FBI rushed to disrupt hastily developed plots of violence by people inspired by the group’s ascendancy, underscores the bureau’s concern that the current conflict in the Middle East is a similar could create dangerous dynamics.

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Although the FBI is not currently tracking any organized threat within the United States, law enforcement is concerned about the potential for attacks by individuals or small groups, as occurred during the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq a decade ago.

The agency has already seen an increase in attacks on overseas military bases and expects cyberattacks targeting U.S. infrastructure to worsen as the conflict expands, he said.

It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period, Wray said. We shouldn’t stop going out, but we should be vigilant.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, meanwhile, said his office has responded to an increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim

,

and Arab American communities in the US since October 1. 7 attack.

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Hate directed at Jewish students, communities and institutions is contributing to a pre-existing increase in the level of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world, he said.

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan said Jewish leaders in her state of New Hampshire say congregants are afraid to go to synagogue, and Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has heard similar fears from people in his state.

“I know our Jewish families across my state and across the country are pretty terrified right now,” Scott said.

Wray cited sobering statistics in his response, saying Jewish people make up 2.4% of the U.S. population but are the targets of about 60% of religion-based hate crimes. That should be shocking to everyone, he said.

The FBI has also opened a hate crime investigation into the death of a 6-year-old Muslim boy who police say was stabbed to death by his landlord in an attack that also seriously injured his mother, Wray said. Police and relatives have said the victims were chosen because of their faith and in response to the war between Israel and Hamas.

PRINT TAGLINE: Whitehurst writes for the Associated Press.

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