FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday warned the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the prospect of a terrorist attack within the United States had become increasingly likely.
Myriad terrorist groups have called for violence amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, prompting fears of terrorist activity within the United States, especially in light of the unprecedented surge in illegal border crossings.
“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” Wray declared in response to questioning from Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott. “What has now increased is the greater possibility of one of these foreign terrorist organizations directing an attack in the United States.”
While he did assert that the bureau had not yet seen any evidence of a group directing an attack, Wray noted that the FBI had seen “one terrorist organization after another calling for attacks.”
“It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period,” Wray told Scott, who then asked whether the FBI was able to track all threats and prevent attacks on the U.S.
Wray retorted that “I couldn’t say that we’re able to detect all individuals… the gaps in our intelligence are real and it’s something that we have concerns about.”
The FBI director’s warning to Congress follows revelations that the San Diego field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection had warned its personnel that Hamas fighters or inspired actors might attempt to enter the U.S. via the southern border.
“San Diego Field Office Intelligence Unit (SDFO-FITU) assesses that individuals inspired by, or reacting to, the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border,” an unclassified document from the office read. “Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the US to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico.”
Accompanying the admonition were images of popular symbols for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The latter group, in particular, is known to operate extensively in Latin America and former Trump Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates has warned that the group had likely already accessed the U.S. interior.
“[W]e know Hezbollah has been active in Latin America; they’ve carried out attacks against Jewish targets in Argentina, for example,” she said in early October on the “Just the News, No Noise” television show. “So they’re here. And the notion that they haven’t tried to cross the border in the last two and a half years, is pretty disingenuous.”