Hamas could inspire attacks in the U.S., FBI chief Christopher Wray says

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Tuesday that Hamas' actions in the Middle East could inspire other terrorist attacks, including by violent extremists in the U.S.

"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 years ago," Wray said in testimony at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing focused on threats to America.

Wray, who testified alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other U.S. officials, said multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West in just the last few weeks.

"Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists — individuals or small groups — will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives," he told senators. "That includes not just homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities."

Wray said the FBI arrested a man in Houston last week who was studying how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews. He also highlighted the brutal killing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois this month, which the FBI is investigating as a hate crime.

The FBI, he continued, has "multiple, ongoing investigations" into people affiliated with Hamas.

"Bottom line, we're going to continue to do everything in our power to protect the American people and support our partners in Israel," he said. "Protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism is, and remains, our No. 1 priority."

Follow live updates on the Israel-Hamas conflict

Wray said Jewish communities are being targeted by extremists "across the spectrum," including homegrown violent extremists and foreign terrorist organizations.

Jews in America suffer "something like 60% of all religious-based hate crimes and incidents" despite representing only about 2.4% of the American public, Wray said, citing government statistics.

Since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack in Israel, antisemitism has been rising sharply, especially on college campuses. The FBI is involved, for example, in investigating antisemitic threats of violence against Jewish students on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The Biden administration announced new actions Monday to combat antisemitism at U.S. colleges and universities. According to the plan shared with NBC News, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security are collaborating with campus law enforcement agencies to track hate-related threats and provide resources to schools.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified before another Senate committee Tuesday morning about the Israel-Hamas war and the Biden administration's supplemental funding request to provide more aid to both Israel and Ukraine.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com