FBI Director warns of Hamas-motivated terror threats

October 31, 2023

FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday that Hamas’ massive October 7 terror attack on Israel could motivate threats similar to those from terrorist organizations like ISIS in years’ past.

While citing law enforcement assessments, Wray cautioned that there is no indication that Hamas intends to attack inside the U.S.—nor that it has the capacity to do so.

“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. In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West,” Wray told the committee.

He added, “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 ‘nother level.”

Wray noted that the FBI and the rest of the intelligence community is mostly concerned about lone-wolf threats targeting the U.S. as well as other Western nations.

“Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists—individuals or small groups—will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East,” the FBI Director said.

He did add that the FBI has “no information to indicate that Hamas has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S., though we cannot, and do not, discount that possibility.”

Wray’s testimony came as a new wave of antisemitism, sparked by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, has been increasing worldwide. Inside the U.S., online expressions of hatred have moved Jewish schools to cancel classes and synagogues to lock their doors. 

Meanwhile, Islamaphobia in the U.S. since Hamas’ attack on Israel has already taken at least one life: a 6-year-old boy of Palestinian descent in Illinois was fatally stabbed and his mother was wounded, allegedly by their landlord, who’s been charged with murder and hate crimes.

In the days following Hamas’ attack, Wray told reporters the threat landscape is ongoing and continues to evolve. He has added that the potential threat does not just come from actors inspired by Hamas. Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah also pose a danger both physically and in cyberspace, and ISIS and al Qaeda have additionally issued calls to action.

“We’re 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,” Wray said.

PHOTO: Wray testifies before Senate Homeland Security Committee

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