FBI director Christopher A. Wray says the agency has opened a number investigations into Palestinian terror group Hamas and persons associated with the organization as worries amount over attacks on US soil.
The FBI, he said during testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security about global threats to the US, “has a large number of tips and leads related specifically to Hamas and radicalization and recruitment. We are urgently running down every tip and lead.”
“We cannot — and do not — discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here, on our own soil,” he said, cited by the New York Times.
Since Hamas’s October 7 shock assault on Israel, Wray said the FBI has seen “a rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies,” naming Hezbollah, the Islamic State, and Al Qaeda.
“We’ve kept our sights on Hamas and have multiple investigations into individuals affiliated with that foreign terrorist organization,” he added.
Wray said that of particular concern were “homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, and domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish Americans or other faith communities, like Muslim Americans.”
The FBI director said the “biggest chunk of the threats that have been reported, by a good margin,” have been to the Jewish community.
Wray pointed to the Hamas threat to urge Congress to re-authorize a spy program security officials say is vital to preventing terrorism, catching spies and disrupting cyberattacks.
The tool, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, will expire at the end of December unless the White House and Congress can cut a deal and resolve an unusually vexing debate that has yielded unlikely alliances at the intersection of privacy and national security.
Without the program, administration officials warn, the government won’t be able to collect crucial intelligence overseas. But civil liberties advocates from across the political spectrum say the law as it stands now infringes on the privacy of ordinary Americans, and insist that changes are needed before the program is reauthorized.
“Just imagine if some foreign terrorist organization overseas shifts its intentions and directs an operative here who’d been contingency planning to carry out an attack in our own backyard — and imagine if we’re not able to disrupt the threat because the FBI’s 702 authorities have been so watered down,” Wray told the committee.
The law, enacted in 2008, permits the US intelligence community to collect without a warrant the communications of foreigners overseas suspected of posing a national security threat. Importantly, the government also captures the communications of American citizens and others in the US when they’re in contact with those targeted foreigners.