Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray warned the U.S. Senate Tuesday that the United States is currently facing an elevated risk of potential terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the October terrorist attacks against Israel that were carried out by Hamas terrorists.
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, Wray described the “dangerous implications” for the security of the United States caused by the “very fluid situation” in the Middle East region.
“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,” he said.
“Since the horrific terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against innocent people in Israel a few weeks ago, we’ve been working around the clock to support our partners there and to protect Americans here at home,” Wray continued. “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.”
Wray noted that over the past several weeks, various terrorist organizations have called for increased attacks against the United States and other Western nations. As examples, Wray said Al-Qaeda recently issued “its most specific call” to violence against the United States in the past five years, ISIS issued a call to target Jewish communities throughout Europe and the United States, and Hezbollah has publicly supported Hamas and threatened violence against U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Additionally, Wray highlighted the recent series of attacks against U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria that have been conducted by Iran-backed terrorist organizations.
Wray warned that U.S. officials are concerned that individuals in the United States could be inspired by the recent terrorist attacks and conduct their own attacks against the U.S.
“We 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,” he warned. “We have kept our sights on Hamas and have multiple ongoing investigations into individuals affiliated with that foreign terrorist organization. And while historically, our Hamas cases have identified individuals located here who are facilitating and financing Hamas’ terrorism overseas, we’re continuing to scrutinize our intelligence to assess how the threat may be evolving.”
However, Wray warned that Hamas is not the only current terrorist threat to the United States. He claimed that Iranians, “as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” have attempted to assassinate “dissidents,” as well as current and former government officials in the United States. Wray also pointed to Hezbollah’s extended history of spying, planting infrastructure and operatives, and collecting weapons and money in the United States.
“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,” Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Wray suggested that if the conflict in the Middle East escalates, the United States can expect to see increased “kinetic attacks,” as well as increased cyber attacks against American interests and infrastructure.
“Across the country, in each and every one of the FBI’s 56 field offices, we are addressing these threats with a sense of urgency,” Wray said.