By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The attack by Hamas on Israel will inspire the most significant terror threat to the U.S. since the rise of ISIS nearly a decade ago, 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, significantly raising the threat posed by homegrown U.S. 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,” Wray said.
The remarks came during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee focused on threats to the United States. The U.S. government has seen an increase in threats against Jews, Muslims and Arab Americans since fighting broke out in Gaza, U.S. officials have said.
During the hearing, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that hate directed at Jewish students in the U.S. following the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza has added to an increase in antisemitism.
The White House expressed alarm this week at reports of anti-Jewish incidents at U.S. universities. Tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups have sprung up on some U.S. campuses, including several in New York, prompting university officials to tighten security.
“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.
At a ransomware summit organized by the White House on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had directed the U.S. Justice Department to assist Israeli investigators probing financial flows to Hamas, including those involving cryptocurrency.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Andrew Goudsward in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)