FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday the war between Israel and Hamas has led to a spike in threats against the U.S., warning that "we are in a dangerous period" as various terrorist groups look to leverage the conflict for their own causes. The threat of international terrorism in the U.S. had largely subsided in recent years, particularly since the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Senior U.S. officials say Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel has created a new dynamic with dangerous implications at home and abroad, NPR reports. "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 other level," Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Hamas' attack, which killed some 1,400 people in Israel, "will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven't seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago," Wray said. He said the FBI has no evidence of a imminent threat from a foreign terrorist group, but he noted that since Hamas' attack on Israel, al-Qaida has issued its most specific call for violence against the U.S. in years, while the Islamic State has urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the U.S. and Europe. Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told lawmakers that the Israel-Hamas war has featured in messaging and propaganda since Oct. 7. "We've seen it from al-Qaida affiliates, almost every single one of them," she said, referring to terrorist groups in the Mideast and Africa with ties to al-Qaida. "We've also seen it from ISIS, which isn't ideologically aligned with a group like Hamas but is still leveraging this current conflict to try to sow the kind of violence, bring adherence to its cause in a kind of exploitative way."