FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned that last month’s Hamas attacks on Israel could inspire violence in the US, telling lawmakers that multiple foreign extremist groups have called for attacks against Americans and the West in recent weeks. “It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period. We shouldn’t stop going out, but we should be vigilant,” he advised Americans.
In his testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Mr. Wray gave his most detailed and ominous assessment of potential threats to the United States. “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 years ago,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. He stressed there is no indication that Hamas itself intends to conduct or has the capability to carry out attacks in the US..
The Associated Press (AP) reports his reference to Islamic State served as “a reminder of when the FBI scrambled to disrupt hastily developed plots of violence by people inspired by the group’s ascendancy, underscoring the bureau’s concerns that the current Middle East conflict could create a similarly dangerous dynamic.”
Mr. Wray revealed that while Jewish people make up just 2.4% of the US population, they are the targets of about 60% of religious-based hate crimes. “That should be jarring to everyone,” he added. Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan said Jewish leaders in her state of New Hampshire say congregants are scared to go to their synagogue, and Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida has heard similar fears from people in his state. “I know our Jewish families all across my state and all across the country are pretty scared to death right now,” he added..
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has confirmed his agency has responded to an increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab American communities in the US since the Hamas attacks on Israel. “Hate directed at Jewish students, communities and institutions add to a pre-existing increase in the level of anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world,” he said.
Although the FBI isn’t currently tracking any “organised threat” inside the US, law enforcement agencies are concerned about the potential of attacks by individuals or small groups, as occurred during the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq a decade ago. The FBI has already seen an increase in attacks on overseas military bases and expects cyberattacks targeting American infrastructure to get worse as the conflict expands, Mr. Wray alerted lawmakers.
The FBI has also opened a hate-crime investigation into the death of a 6-year-old Muslim boy who police say was killed by his landlord in an attack that also seriously wounded his mother, Mr. Wray told the committee. Police and relatives have said the victims were singled out because of their faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.