A new joint bulletin from the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to local, state and federal law enforcement warns that groups like al Qaeda and ISIS will likely use the Israel-Hamas war "to increase calls for violence in the U.S. during the holiday season compared to prior years." It says the most likely "primary targets" could include churches, synagogues and members of the Jewish community.
With the Israeli militaryand Hanukkah only days away, the new intelligence report reviewed by CBS News warns of increased threats from foreign terrorist groups. It mirrors FBI Director Christopher Wray's testimony Tuesday on Capitol Hill, during which he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "I see blinking lights everywhere I turn," in response to a question from Sen. Lindsey Graham about possible warning signs.
Wray said the number of threats is at a "whole other level" since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, adding, "I've never seen a time where all the threats, or so many of the threats, are all elevated all at exactly the same time."
Wray warned terrorists may try to exploit the U.S. southern border, and said the FBI is working to "identify and disrupt potential attacks."
While the holiday season always sees heightened intelligence chatter, the report predicts an uptick this year because of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
In his prepared testimony to Congress, Wray said, "Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by — or reacting to — the ongoing Israel-HAMAS conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim and Arab-American communities in the United States. We have seen an increase in reported threats to Jewish and Muslim people, institutions and houses of worship here in the United States and are moving quickly to mitigate them."
The internal government report comes as new details have emerged about an alleged plot to attack Las Vegas. Authorities arrested a 16-year-old suspect who allegedly wrote on social media about launching a lone wolf attack in support of ISIS. Investigators say they recovered a homemade ISIS flag and bomb parts, among other items, police said Tuesday.
With the spike in threats since the war began, the intelligence report warns civilian casualties in Gaza, "whether real, perceived or falsified," and the "increased presence of U.S. military forces in direct support of Israel" will likely be exploited by terrorist groups.
There is no specific or credible threat, and Wray testified there's nothing to indicate Hamas has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S., but Wray added the Bureau has not discounted the possibility.
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