FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday warned that the threat of a terror attack against Americans has been raised to a "whole other level" due to ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
"The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level," Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Hamas launched a deadly terrorist attack against Israel on Oct. 7, leading to a military response from the U.S. ally. The conflict has renewed concern in the U.S. that there could be similar terror attacks inspired by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by domestic and homegrown terrorists.
"We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration, the likes of which we haven't seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago," Wray said. "In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West."
Wray warned that the most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw inspiration from the events to attack Americans, including homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, or by domestic violent extremists who are targeting Muslim or Jewish targets.
He cited the arrest of a man in Houston who had been studying how to build bombs and had posted support of killing Jews; and the killing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois, which Wray said is being investigated as a federal hate crime.
"We also cannot and do not discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here on our own soil," he said.
He also pointed to concerns about threats posed by Hezbollah as well as Iran – which supports both Hamas and Hezbollah – and noted their histories of support of terror and criminal operations.
"Given that disturbing history, we are keeping a close eye on what impact recent events may have on those groups' intentions here in the United States and how those intentions might evolve," he said, citing cyber-targeting of American interests by Iran and other foes.
Wray’s comments echo those by other agencies. The White House said this week that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have seen an "alarming rise" in antisemitic incidents and threats against Jewish communities.
A DHS spokesperson said this week that the U.S. remains in a heightened threat environment and recent events reinforce that.
"As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, we have seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions. Lone offenders, motivated by a range of violent ideologies, pose the most likely threat. We urge the public to stay vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to local law enforcement," the spokesperson said in a statement.
Fox News' Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.