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15 Oct, 2023 21:29

FBI director warns of Hamas copycat threat

Christopher Wray did not mention any specific plots targeting Americans, merely urging local police to remain vigilant 
FBI director warns of Hamas copycat threat

Americans face a heightened threat from “lone wolf” terrorists inspired to replicate aspects of Hamas’ recent assault on Israel in the US, FBI Director Christopher Wray told an audience of law enforcement officers at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in San Diego on Saturday. 

Claiming there was “no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats,” Wray warned his law enforcement colleagues, “we’ve got to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own” – a reference to Hamas’ attack on Israel last Saturday.

History has been witness to antisemitic and other forms of violent extremism for too long,” the FBI director continued, vowing to “continue confronting those threats.” 

The responsibility to confront rests on conference attendees, Wray added, urging them to “stay vigilant” and notify the FBI and other authorities if they saw any “signs that someone may be mobilizing towards violence.” 

The FBI chief did not give any specific examples of domestic threats, copycat or otherwise, that had emerged since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel. Instead, he made a generalized reference to “foreign terrorist organizations, or those inspired by them, or domestic violent extremists motivated by their own racial animus” as an equivalent menace likely to target individuals because of their ancestry.

Wray’s FBI was caught earlier this year targeting Christian groups in a sprawling probe that presented traditionalist Catholics as potential domestic terrorists with an “antisemitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” 

Saturday’s speech was one of the few public references Wray had made since the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot to an extremist threat with possible origins outside the US. The FBI director has insisted for years that the primary menace imperiling Americans is “white supremacy.” The concept has become increasingly nebulous under the presidential administration of Joe Biden, expanding to include not only so-called “radical Catholics” but also parents who speak out at school board meetings, many of whom were investigated by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division for speaking out against Covid-19 policies, LGBTQ material inserted into their children’s curricula, and other controversial issues following a directive from the Department of Justice deeming them a threat to school officials.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have highlighted “claims of government overreach” as a motivating factor for these “domestic violent extremists.”