Hamas attack will inspire greatest US terror threat since ISIS — FBI

A VIEW shows the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) outside of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office in Cincinnati, Ohio, US, Aug. 11, 2022. — REUTERS

WASHINGTON — The attack by Hamas on Israel will inspire the most significant terror threat to the United States since the rise of ISIS nearly a decade ago, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Wray said that since the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza earlier this month, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West, raising the threat posed by homegrown US violent extremists.

“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,” Mr. Wray said.

The remarks came during a hearing before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee focused on threats to the United States. The US government has seen an increase in threats against Jews, Muslims and Arab Americans since fighting broke out in Gaza, officials have said.

The number of attacks on US military bases overseas by Iran-backed militia groups have risen this month, Mr. Wray said. Cyberattacks against the United States by Iran and non-state actors will likely worsen if the conflict expands, he said.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that hate directed at Jewish students in the United States following the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza had added to an increase in anti-Semitism.

The White House expressed alarm this week at reports of anti-Jewish incidents at US universities as tensions have prompted university officials to tighten security.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, grilled Mayorkas about why a US asylum officer who reportedly made anti-Israel social media posts had been placed on leave but not fired, saying the employee was “celebrating genocide.”

Mr. Mayorkas said it was “despicable” to suggest the posts reflected the view of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees, noting that his own mother was a Holocaust survivor.

At a ransomware summit organized by the White House on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had directed the Justice Department to assist Israeli investigators probing financial flows to Hamas, including those involving cryptocurrency. — Reuters

Neil Banzuelo

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