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US, EU officials warn of increased terror risk associated with Hamas

Officials said risks were high but they did not have evidence of any specific terror threats in the U.S. or in Europe.
US, EU officials warn of increased terror risk associated with Hamas
Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 09:18:40-05

Following Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7, FBI officials said the agency is working hard to spot and protect against the possibility of similar terrorist attacks in the U.S.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that Hamas' October attack may be considered inspiration for future violence.

"Given the steady drumbeat of calls for attacks by foreign terrorist organizations since Oct. 7, we’re working around the clock to identify and disrupt potential attacks by those inspired by Hamas’s horrific terrorist attacks in Israel," Wray said.

But in a separate written statement, Wray said there's no indication that Hamas “has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S."

Wray nonetheless warned of the possibility that other terror groups or Hamas sympathizers may commit attacks on Hamas' behalf, or use Hamas' war with Israel to rally their own support.

Wray noted the increase in hate crimes, and particularly in antisemitic attacks, since Oct. 7. 

Wray's appearance before Congress comes as the FBI is seeking renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the U.S. government to gather intelligence on noncitizens who are using U.S.-based communications services.

If it is not reauthorized, the measure will expire at the end of this year.

SEE MORE: House panel questions college presidents over antisemitic incidents

Europe, meanwhile, faces similar risks, according to officials there.

The European Union’s home affairs commissioner said Tuesday there was a "huge risk of terrorist attacks" around Christmas as the war between Israel and Hamas continued.

"We saw (it happening) recently in Paris, unfortunately we have seen it earlier as well," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said. 

Johansson did not immediately offer specific details about what caused her to draw that conclusion. She later told reporters it was based on EU member countries being in a state of high alert, and a rise in antisemitic attacks.

"Taking all this together, I do the assessment that yes, the threat is significant," she said.

That warning comes as France probes a recent stabbing attack that took place near the Eiffel Tower. One person died in the attack, and authorities say they may charge the suspect with murder "in connection with a terrorist enterprise."

SEE MORE: Far from the West Bank, Vermont shooting victims face new fear


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