FBI Director Chris Wray warned during a speech in California Saturday of a spike in domestic threats linked to Israel’s war against Hamas militants.
“I want to take a moment to offer my heartfelt condolences to the people of Israel, and share the outrage I know we all feel at the sheer brutality and disregard for innocent lives there,” Wray said during prepared remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in San Diego.
“History has been witness to antisemitic and other forms of violent extremism for far too long. Whether that be from foreign terrorist organizations, or those inspired by them, or domestic violent extremists motivated by their own racial animus, the targeting of a community because of their faith is completely unacceptable,” Wray continued. “We remain committed to continue confronting those threats—both here in the United States and overseas.”
“In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we have to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own,” he said. “And I’d encourage you to stay vigilant, because as the first line of defense in protecting our communities, you’re often the first to see the signs that someone may be mobilizing to violence. And I’d also ask you to continue sharing any intelligence or observations you may have.”
“On our end, we’re committed to doing the same, so that together, we can safeguard our communities,” Wray said.
The warning came a day after major U.S. cities, including New York, were on heightened security and increased police presence Friday amid concern over demonstrations related to the conflict. A former Hamas leader had also called for Muslims around the world to take to the streets in support of Palestinians and consider Oct. 13 a “Day of Jihad.”
In its last statement issued Oct. 9 on the Hamas attacks in Israel, the FBI said it “does not have specific and credible intelligence indicating a threat to the United States.”
“We are closely monitoring unfolding events and will share relevant information with our state, local, federal and international law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security partners to ensure they are prepared for any impacts to public safety. We will not hesitate to adjust our security posture, as appropriate, to protect the American people,” the bureau said.
“We are closely coordinating with our counterparts in the region as well as other international partners,” the statement continued. “Through our Legal Attaché office in Israel, FBI personnel are working with our partners on the ground to locate and identify any impacted Americans. Reports of deceased, injured, or unaccounted for Americans are being treated with the utmost urgency and aggressively investigated. The FBI’s Victim Services Division is coordinating with the Department of State to assist, as necessary, with family engagement.”