FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the Hamas attack on Israel could spin off violence by Islamic radicals inside the United States, and he said several times in the hearing that Americans should be “vigilant.”
“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,” Wray said, referring to the Islamic State terror group during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period. We shouldn’t stop going out, but we should be vigilant.”
Hamas and other radicalized Islamist groups have ramped up their calls for attacks on Americans and the U.S., Wray said. The agency is specifically concerned about lone-wolf individuals who are not associated with any organization but act in response to the war in Gaza, which began when Hamas crossed into Israel and slaughtered over 1,400 Jews.
He said the agency is receiving an increased number of tips from Americans and that the agency has several active investigations into people associated with Hamas.
Although Jewish people make up 2.4% of the population in the United States, they are targets of about 60% of religious-based hate crimes, Wray said, adding, “That should be jarring to everyone.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the committee that his department is also seeing an increased number of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab Americans ever since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
“Hate directed at Jewish students, communities and institutions add to a preexisting increase in the level of antisemitism in the United States and around the world,” Mayorkas said.
New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan said Jewish leaders have told her that worshipers are now afraid to go to synagogues. That statement was echoed by Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott.
“I know our Jewish families all across my state and all across the country are pretty scared to death right now,” Scott said.
“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” Wray told the committee. “We shouldn’t stop conducting our daily lives, going to schools, houses of worship, and so forth, but we should be vigilant. You often hear the expression, ‘If you see something, say something.’ That’s never been more true than now, and that’s partly why the American people are reporting more tips and leads to us and we’re pursuing those threats and leads.”