Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned the threat of a terror attack against Americans has been raised to a “whole other level” because of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
“The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” said Wray to legislators on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Hamas launched a deadly terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, leading to a military response from the ally to the U.S. It has renewed concern in the United States that there could be similar terror attacks inspired by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by homegrown and domestic terrorists.
“We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration, the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago,” said Wray. “In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West.”
Wray warned the most immediate concern is that small groups or individuals will draw inspiration from the events to attack Americans, including homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by foreign terrorist organizations or by violent domestic extremists who are targeting Jewish or Muslim targets.
The director cited the arrest of a man in Houston who had studied how to build bombs and made posts supporting killing Jews and the murder of a Muslim boy in Illinois, which Wray said is under investigation as a hate crime.
“We also cannot and do not discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here on our own soil,” said Wray.
Wray: Concerns about threats posed by Hezbollah and Iran
He also pointed out concerns about threats posed by Iran and Hezbollah — which supports both Hezbollah and Hamas — and noted histories of support of criminal operations and terror.
“Given that disturbing history, we are keeping a close eye on what impact recent events may have on those groups’ intentions here in the United States and how those intentions might evolve,” said Wray, citing cyber targeting of American interests by Iran and other enemies.
Director Wray’s comments echo those of other agencies. This week, the White House said that the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have seen an “alarming rise” in antisemitic threats and incidents against Jewish communities.
This week, a DHS spokesperson said the U.S. remains in a heightened threat environment, and recent events underscore that.
“As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, we have seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions. Lone offenders, motivated by a range of violent ideologies, pose the most likely threat. We urge the public to stay vigilant and to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement promptly,” said the spokesperson.