Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists – individuals or small groups – will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives.FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats on Tuesday. Wray said, “This is not a time for panic. But it is a time for vigilance.”
Why It Matters: In Wray’s opening statements, he said that the war in the Middle East “has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole ‘nother level.” He explained that the FBI has been “working around the clock” to support Israel and protect Americans since Hamas (a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization) attacked Israel about three weeks ago. Wray also noted that if the conflict expands, cyber-attacks against the U.S. conducted by Iran (described as “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism“) and non-state actors could become worse, “as will the threat of kinetic attacks.”
Wray said the threat against Americans and the West comes not just from extremists who may be inspired by Hamas, but also from several foreign terrorist organizations who have “called for attacks against Americans and the West” in “the past few weeks.” He cited the following examples:
- “Al Qaeda issued its most specific call to attack the United States in the last five years.”
- “ISIS urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the United States and Europe.”
- Iran-backed foreign terrorist organization “Hezbollah has publicly expressed its support for Hamas and threatened to attack U.S. interests in the Middle East.” Wray also mentioned the increase in attacks on U.S. positions in the Middle East, carried out by Iran-backed militia groups.
by Leah Grainery, based in Texas