Washington — FBI Director Chris Wray warned Congress Tuesday thatcould motivate threats similar to those posed by in years past, according to law enforcement assessments, but he cautioned that there is no indication that Hamas itself has the intention or capacity to carry out attacks in the United States.
“We believe the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration, the likes of which we have not seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago. In just the last few weeks “, several foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West,” Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee during a hearing on global threats.
“The reality is that the threat of terrorism has been rising throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has elevated the threat of an attack on Americans in the United States to a whole new level ” Wray said.
Wray said of the threat landscape in the United States: “Now is the time to be concerned. We are in dangerous times.” He said Americans should not alter their lives, but should be vigilant.
“Now is not the time for panic,” he said. “But now is the time to be vigilant.”
Following the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 andagainst the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the FBI director said the US intelligence community is very concerned about lone wolf attackers targeting Western countries.
“Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists – individuals or small groups – are taking inspiration from events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans in their daily lives,” he said. he further warned during his term in Congress. testimony. In written remarks submitted to Congress, the FBI director clarified: “We have no information indicating that Hamas has the intention or capacity to conduct operations inside the United States, although we do not We cannot and will not rule out this possibility.
Days after Hamas launched its attacks in Israel, Wray told reporters that the threat landscape persisted and continued to evolve. Law enforcement, he added, cannot rule out the possibility that terrorist groups like Hamas and its allies could use the attacks and Israel’s response to “exploit the conflict” and inspire attacks on UNITED STATES.
According to the FBI director, the potential threat does not come only from actors inspired by Hamas. Iran and Hezbollah, he added, also pose a possible danger to the United States in terms of cyber and kinetic attacks. ISIS and al-Qaeda have also issued calls for action, Wray said.
“We are closely monitoring the impact that recent events may have on the intentions of these groups here in the United States, and how those intentions may evolve,” Wray said.
Law enforcement officials say they have yet to encounter specific credible terrorist threats against Americans on U.S. soil, but remain vigilant.
The government warned law enforcement earlier this month that fighting between Israel and Hamas had “increased the focus for potential attacks” in the United States against individuals and institutions with “perceived” ties. with the unrest, according to an intelligence bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security. , FBI and National Counterterrorism Center.
Intelligence analysts have assessed that “lone offenders inspired by, or in response to, the current conflict between Israel and Hamas pose the most likely threat to Americans, particularly the Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities.” in the United States,” but cautioned that the bulletin reflected “this moment” amid a “fluid and evolving situation.”
Wray told lawmakers the threat was somehow reaching “historic levels.” He said in response to a question from Senator Jacky Rosen:, that the Jewish community is the target of terrorists of all sides. Jews make up only 2.4 percent of the U.S. population, Wray noted, but they are the target of 60 percent of religious hate crimes.
Threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities and institutions have increased in recent weeks, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, as evidenced by thein Israel and threats against Jewish communities on college campuses. The Justice Department opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the child’s death after he was killed by his owner, who was allegedly motivated by anti-Muslim hatred, police said.
Wray revealed Tuesday that the FBI arrested a man in Houston last week after he was accused of researching bomb-making and posting support for the killing of Jews online.
The FBI director said law enforcement agencies across the country are treating every potential threat with “urgency,” adding: “Protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism is and remains our number one priority.”
Also Tuesday, Garland confirmed to a group focused on combating ransomware attacks that the Justice Department is proposing to work with Israel to help disrupt Hamas’ cash flow following the attacks by identifying where it came from. financial support for the terrorist organization, including cryptocurrency.