The war between Israel and Hamas has raised the threat of attacks against Americans in the United States to "another level," FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Tuesday.
"We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as inspiration the likes of which we have not seen since (the Islamic State group) launched its so-called caliphate several years ago," Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
"We also cannot 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," he said.
The head of the US federal police affirmed that the most important threat looms over the Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States.
"Our most immediate concern is that violent extremists, individuals or small groups, will be inspired by events in the Middle East and carry out attacks against Americans in their daily lives," he said.
"That includes not only indigenous violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities."
Wray pointed to the arrest in Houston last week of a man who had been studying how to build bombs and who had posted online about "killing Jews" and the stabbing death of a six-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois by his landlord. a murder that is being investigated as a hate crime.
"The ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to another level," Wray declared.
Wray said that Al Qaeda had made "its most specific call to attack the United States in the last five years" and that the Islamic State had urged its followers to attack Jewish communities in the United States and Europe.
He also noted that Iran-backed Hezbollah has threatened to attack U.S. interests in the Middle East and that there has been an increase in attacks on U.S. military bases abroad by Iranian-backed militia groups.