US anti-terror czar says Oct. 7 attack serves as recruitment tool for terror groups

‘Generational’ Hamas assault an ‘inspiration’ for lone actors,’ warns Brett Holmgren; adds Washington’s support for war driving fury toward US, with effects already felt in Europe

Brett Holmgren, Assistant US Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, speaks during a hearing of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Brett Holmgren, Assistant US Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, speaks during a hearing of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

A top United States intelligence official said in an interview published Friday that terror groups around the world were using Hamas’s October 7 onslaught on Israel as a “recruiting opportunity,” while US support for Israel’s ensuing war in Gaza has pushed lone actors toward violence.

Brett Holmgren, the outgoing Assistant US Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, made the comments in an interview with The Washington Post.

According to The Post, the bureau — one of 18 US intelligence agencies — excels in analyzing non-tangible variables, such as a people’s willingness to fight.

Holmgren is set to become the acting director of the US government’s National Counterterrorism Center.

Holmgren told the newspaper that the October 7 massacre served as “a generational event that terrorist organizations in the Middle East and around the world use as a recruiting opportunity.” Holmgren said the fallout from the onslaught was already playing out in Europe, referring to foiled attacks on Jewish targets.

Several European countries have seen violence against Israelis and Jews mushroom amid the war in Gaza, including explosives thrown at synagogues in Germany and an antisemitic gang rape of a 12-year-old girl in France. In April, Dutch intelligence announced that Western agencies had prevented 10 terror attacks in Europe over the past year, and that the threat had increased following October 7.

The shock assault saw thousands of Hamas-led terrorists storm southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people and take 251 hostages, amid rampant atrocities, some of which were caught on terrorists’ bodycams and published online.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has devastated Gaza and left over 38,000 people dead, according to the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry. The toll, which cannot be independently verified, does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. The army says it has killed about 15,000 gunmen in battle, as well as some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel during the October 7 attack.

Illustrative: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather on the UCLA campus, June 12, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

According to The Post, when asked about global anger at the US over its role in supporting Israel in the war, Holmgren responded that “the sentiments that you’re hearing on the ground are real” and were reflected in his bureau’s intelligence analyses.

Holmgren acknowledged that such sentiments were “the global ramifications that 7 October has had, and is likely to have, on the perception of the United States in the region and among most Muslim countries.”

Nonetheless, Holmgren emphasized that foreign governments, “whether in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe or Asia,” still wanted to cooperate with the US on intelligence and solutions to the war in Gaza.

“A lot of these governments still very much want US engagement and believe that it’s important to the future of the region and also the future of the international order,” Holmgren said.

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