FBI intensifies investigations into Hamas | ET REALITY


Christopher A. Wray, director of the FBI, said Wednesday that the bureau had opened a series of investigations into Hamas as it tries to thwart potential attacks and hinder financial support for the militant group.

“We also have a large number of leads and leads related specifically to Hamas, radicalization and recruitment,” Wray said in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee on global threats to the United States. “We are urgently analyzing all indications and clues.”

He added: “We cannot rule out (and do not rule out) the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization could take advantage of the current conflict to carry out attacks here, on our own soil.”

Wray’s comments reflected growing concern among senior FBI officials that Hamas’s brazen attack on Israel last month, which left about 1,200 dead, could inspire similar attacks, including in the United States, as well as provide the terrorist organization with more financial support.

In the past, Hamas has not been a priority for US intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement. In fact, the White House’s 2022 plan national security strategy refers to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, but does not mention Hamas, an indication that the United States has not typically considered the group a direct threat.

Since the Hamas attack, Wray said, “we have seen a gallery of foreign terrorist organizations calling for attacks against Americans and our allies,” naming Hezbollah, the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

He added: “We have kept our sights on Hamas and have multiple investigations into individuals affiliated with that foreign terrorist organization.”

Among those killed on October 7 were about three dozen American citizens, and another 10 were missing. It is unclear how many Americans were among those Hamas and other Palestinian groups kidnapped that day and transported back to Gaza. The Israeli government is still trying to identify human remains. So far, 859 Israeli civilians killed in the attack have been identified.

Wray also noted the threat from Hamas by urging lawmakers to reauthorize a key surveillance tool, known as Section 702, which is set to expire at the end of this year. All intelligence on the group that is gathered through electronic surveillance, as opposed to human informants, was gathered using that particular section of the law, he said.

It would be “a tremendously irresponsible risk” if Congress did not reauthorize it, he added.

Wray reiterated concerns he had raised during a hearing last month with senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, in which he noted growing threats against Jews and Muslims in the United States.

Of particular concern are attacks by violent extremists or lone actors in the United States fueled by calls for violence, Wray said Wednesday, pointing to “homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, and domestic violent extremists attacking American Jews or other religious communities, such as American Muslims.”

Wray added that “the majority of threats that have been reported, by a good margin,” had been against the Jewish community, including synagogues and Jewish leaders.

Last month, Wray, citing statistics from 2022, noted that despite making up less than 3 percent of the American population, Jews were the target of about 60 percent of religiously based hate crimes.

Although Wray had a mostly friendly reception on Wednesday, Clay Higgins, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, took aim at the director and peddled a conspiratorial claim that has circulated in right-wing circles about the FBI’s role on January 6.

In a heated exchange, Wray said that neither FBI agents nor informants had orchestrated the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol. “The answer is absolutely no,” Wray said, growing angrier.

Mr. Higgins was not satisfied.

“Your day is coming, Mr. Wray,” he said.

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