Oct. 31 (UPI) -- FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday that the Hamas-Israel conflict has heightened the risk of possible attacks against Americans to an unprecedented degree.
During a hearing held by the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Wray said there has been a surge in terrorist organizations' calls for attacks on Western targets, with a specific focus on Jewish communities in both the United States and Europe.
He said that these threats could inspire violent extremists, operating as individuals or small groups, to carry out attacks on American soil.
"The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the treat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a (another) level," he said. "Since the horrific terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against innocent people in Israel a few weeks ago, we have been working around the clock to support our partners there and to protect Americans here at home."
To counter these threats, he said that the FBI has taken proactive measures, addressing these possibilities with a deep sense of urgency.
"This is a threat that is reaching, in some way, sort of historic levels," he explained. "In part, because ... the Jewish community is targeted by terrorists across the spectrum."
Wray pointed out that, even though the Jewish community constitutes just 2.4% of the American population, they endure a disproportionate 60% of all religious-based hate crimes.
He says the growing threat landscape underscores the need for continued vigilance and cooperation between security agencies and the public to safeguard against potential acts of terrorism.
In the weeks following the conflict, there has been a notable increase in both antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks within the United States.
The Anti-Defamation League has documented an alarming 388 percent increase in antisemitic incidents when compared to the corresponding period from the previous year, as reported by The Hill.
Additionally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has experienced a substantial uptick in "biased incidents," with its members reporting a total of 774 such cases, marking a significant rise from the prior year's average of 224 reports during a 16-day period.