FBI Director Says Terror Threats Elevated To All-Time High Since Hamas Attacks
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday told lawmakers that the United States is facing unprecedented terrorist threats since the start of the Israel–Hamas conflict in October.
“What I would say that is unique about the environment that we’re in right now in my career is that while there may have been times over the years where individual threats could have been higher here or there than where they may be right now, I’ve never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated, all at exactly the same time,” the FBI director said in a Senate hearing after he was pressed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about the threats facing the United States.
In response, Mr. Graham said that the “blinking red lights analogy about 9/11 … all the lights were blinking red before 9/11, apparently.” He then asked the FBI director: “Would you say there’s multiple blinking red lights out there?”
“I see blinking red lights everywhere,” Mr. Wray answered, without elaborating.
The FBI chief’s comments on Tuesday come as Israeli forces stormed southern Gaza’s main city in what they called the most intense day of combat in five weeks of ground operations against Hamas.
In what appeared to be the biggest ground assault in Gaza since a truce with Hamas ended last week, Israel said its forces reached the heart of Khan Younis.
“We are in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation,” the commander of the Israeli military’s Southern Command, General Yaron Finkelman, said in Jerusalem.
He said Israeli forces were also fighting in Jabalia, a large urban refugee camp and Hamas stronghold in northern Gaza next to Gaza City, and in Shuja’iyya, east of the city. “We are in the heart of Jabalia, in the heart of Shuja’iyya, and now also in the heart of Khan Younis,” he said.
The Tuesday warning comes several weeks after he told lawmakers that the Hamas–Israel war could spark terrorism within the United States and said that Hamas could inspire ISIS-like attacks. Since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7, multiple designated terrorist groups have called for attacks on U.S. targets, he said.
“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 on Oct. 31
At the time, he told lawmakers that Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist organization, does not have “the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S., though we cannot, and do not, discount that possibility.”
“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” Mr. Wray added, responding to public fears about potential terrorist attacks. “You often hear the expression if you see something, say something … that’s never been more true than now,” he added, referring to a slogan that has often been used at U.S. transportation hubs and airports in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
There has also been a rise in incidents targeting Jewish people across the United States, he said, adding that while the White House has expressed alarm reports of incidents at American universities as tensions have prompted university officials to tighten security.
“This is a threat that is reaching, in some way, sort of historic levels,” Mr. Wray said. He said it’s because “the Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum.”
This week, the United States blamed the Houthi terrorist group in Yemen for a series of attacks in Middle Eastern waters since war broke out between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7.
In several recent incidents over the past weekend, three commercial vessels came under attack in international waters in the southern Red Sea. The Houthis acknowledged launching drone and missile attacks against what they said were two Israeli vessels in the area.
The USS Carney, a U.S. Navy destroyer, shot down three drones on Sunday as it answered distress calls from the commercial vessels. The U.S. military says the three vessels were connected to 14 separate nations.
“The Carney took action as a drone was headed in its direction. But again, we can’t assess that the Carney at this time was the intended target,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh.
The Houthi group, which controls most of Yemen’s Red Sea coast, had previously fired ballistic missiles and armed drones toward Israel and vowed to target more Israeli vessels.
The organization was taken off the U.S. State Department’s terror list in 2021. But White House officials have said this week that they are leaving open the possibility of potentially designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization again.
Thu, 12/07/2023 – 17:00