FBI Director Christopher Wray is warning that terrorist threats against the U.S. have reached “a whole other level” after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack against Israel.
During an Oct. 31 congressional testimony, Wray said that the Israel attack, which was a committed by the Islamic militant group Hamas, could inspire attacks in the U.S.
“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 Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.
“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,” Wray said. “This is not a time for panic. But it is a time for vigilance.”
The FBI director, appointed by former President Donald Trump, explained that the intelligence community is most concerned about lone-wolf style actors or violent extremists.
Worldwide antisemitism has grown following the recent attack on Israel, which involved militants invading by air, sea, and land, killing 1,400 people and taking hundreds hostage.
Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League says antisemitic incidents have risen by roughly 400 percent in the two weeks after the attack.
“The Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum — homegrown violent extremists; foreign terrorist organizations, both Sunni and Shia; domestic violent extremists,” Wray added, citing several terrorist organizations that have issued calls to kill Americans.
To have this many foreign terrorist groups calling for attacks greatly elevates the potential terror threats against the U.S., Wray said.
Christine Abizaid, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified during the hearing that the Israel-Hamas conflict has been featured in new messaging and propaganda.
“We’ve seen it from al-Qaida affiliates, almost every single one of them,” she told lawmakers. “We’ve also seen it from ISIS, which isn’t ideologically aligned with a group like Hamas but is still leveraging this current conflict to try to sow the kind of violence, bring adherence to its cause in a kind of exploitative way.”
Wray and Abizaid have now joined a growing list of officials warning of a heightened threat environment following fresh Middle East tensions. Multiple congressional officials and New York City Mayor Eric Adams cautioned that the U.S. could soon face a terrorist attack. A recent memo from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) said individuals inspired by, or reacting to the current Israel-Hamas conflict, may attempt to enter the U.S. through the southern border.