By: Virginia Allen, The Daily Signal
Foreign terrorists are more likely to attack the United States, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“In a year where the terrorism threat was already elevated, the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole ‘nother level,” Wray said.
“Since October 7th, we’ve seen a rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee during a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill.
Since Hamas’ attack on Israel last month, in which terrorists killed 1,400 Israelis and took 240 people hostage, Wray noted that Hezbollah has expressed support for Hamas and has made threats against U.S. interests in the Middle East.
“Al-Qaeda issued its most specific call to attack the United States in the past five years,” Wray said, adding that “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called on jihadists to attack Americans and Jewish people everywhere.”
ISIS has also urged members to target Jewish communities, according to the FBI director.
“Given those calls for action, our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home,” Wray told the members of the committee.
The hearing, titled “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland,” centered on the threats America faces and how the current border crisis may have left the U.S. more vulnerable to deadly threats.
Wray testified alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid.
Over the course of the last three fiscal years, Customs and Border Protection has encountered 286 illegal aliens on America’s terrorist watchlist between ports of entry on the country’s southern and northern borders.
The terrorist watchlist includes “individuals who represent a potential threat to the United States, including known affiliates of watchlisted individuals,” according to Customs and Border Protection. The government’s chart below refers to the watchlist by the acronym TSDS.
“This is one of the most dangerous times in the history of the United States,” Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, chairman of the committee, said at the hearing. Green pointed to the border policies of the Biden administration as a key reason for the current threat level, adding that President Joe Biden’s border policies can be compared to “a college town bar that doesn’t card. Before long, they have a line out the door.”
Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, pressed both Wray and Mayorkas on how the current situation at the southern border could leave Americans vulnerable to the threat of terrorism.
In fiscal year 2023, authorities encountered 169 illegal aliens on America’s terrorist watchlist at the southern border between ports of entry.
“Are there people that match the terror watchlist that were apprehended by CBP that the FBI and other agencies are searching for in the United States?” Pfluger asked Wray.
“There are certainly individuals who are the subject of terrorism investigations that we are searching for,” Wray said, though he was unable or unwilling to directly say if those are individuals whom CBP encountered at the border.
Pfluger then turned to Mayorkas.
“Is their policy at DHS and CBP that requires detainment of people who match the terror watchlist?” the senator asked Mayorkas.
“Individuals who pose a threat to public safety or national security are a priority for enforcement. And if, in fact … they pose such a threat, they ought to be detained,” Mayorkas answered.
“So why didn’t you release people in the United States that match the terror watchlist?” Pfluger shot back.
Mayorkas reiterated his prior statement before Pfluger interrupted him, adding that based on his testimony and Wray’s, he believes “there are people that you’re still searching for that you should have detained.”
Wray did not hide his concern over the threat of terrorist activity in America, and while being questioned by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Wray reminded the members of Congress that “it was 19 people who killed 3,000 people” on Sept. 11, 2001.
In October, Fox News reported that Border Patrol has encountered 72,823 “special interest aliens” on America’s borders over the past two years—many from the Middle East.
Federal authorities use “special interest alien” to refer to an illegal alien from a nation that promotes terrorist activity, harbors terrorists, or poses a possible security threat to the U.S.