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FBI New York division chief: "We are definitely looking into the threats that are coming in"

FBI New York division chief talks about threats
FBI New York division chief talks about threats 02:15

NEW YORK - The FBI has been tracking in our area since the Israeli-Hamas conflict began.

CBS New York's Jennifer Bisram sat down with the FBI New York Division Assistant Director in Charge James Smith to talk about what's being done to keep New Yorkers safe. 

"We are working, and we working hard, to protect the community," Smith said. "We are definitely looking into the threats that are coming in, whether it be from overseas or not." 

Smith told CBS New York the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East could inspire violence in the United States, including here in New York City

"Al Qaeda, ISIS and others have called for violence here in our soil," Smith said. 

He said they can attack through the dark web, targeting lone actors and homegrown violent extremists. 

"They don't have to truly travel to the United States to do that. They can get an American citizen radicalized to conduct that act of terror," Smith said. 

But lone actors and home-grown violent extremists are who they are most concerned about. 

"You're gonna have that kid or person in their basement or talking on the dark web becoming radicalized," Smith said. 

Israel-Hamas war drove threat level higher

Earlier this week during a hearing on worldwide threats, the FBI told the Senate Homeland Security Committee terrorism threats were elevated this year, and the Israel-Hamas conflict raised the threat even higher. 

"The calls of threats, or the calls for violence, has gone up. Hate speech has gone up," Smith said. 

According to the NYPD, reported hate crimes against the Jewish and Muslim communities have risen significantly. Before the conflict, there were 161 against Jewish New Yorkers. As of Friday, there were 221. Before Oct. 7, there were seven reported crimes against Muslim New Yorkers. As of Friday, there were 15. 

"When it comes to investigations, yes, we use all the tools in our tool box," Smith said. 

Smith, the first Black director of the FBI's New York office, said the bureau is working with all of its local law enforcement partners including the NYPD, and has been closely monitoring rallies, protests, houses of worship, and threats at universities and college campuses

"I'm not going to say people should be afraid. No. But they should be aware of their surroundings," Smith said. 

The FBI says right now there aren't any specific threats here in New York, but the bureau is urging New Yorkers to report anything suspicious.

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