Aug 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

FBI chief expresses alarm at rise in politically driven violence in U.S.

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 budget for the FBI at the U.S. Capitol on May 25.

FBI Director Christopher Wray during a May Senate hearing. Photo: Ting Shen/Pool/Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concern at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday at growing violence in the U.S. related to politically divisive domestic issues that are now "almost a 365-day phenomenon."

Details: "I feel like everyday I'm getting briefed on somebody throwing a molotov cocktail at someone for some issue," he said. "It's crazy," added Wray, noting that there had been an "uptick" in violence related to abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The big picture: Abortion-related attacks were rising before the June Roe decision. Hours after Wray's testimony, federal prosecutors charged a 25-year-old Michigan man with arson over a fire at a Planned Parenthood building in Kalamazoo.

Meanwhile, election workers have testified before the House Jan. 6 select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot about violent threats and harassment they've received from Trump supporters for carrying out their duties in the 2020 presidential election.

  • Earlier this week, the Michigan Republican Party canceled a primary watch party in Lansing after a man entered the party's headquarters saying he was "planning on shooting up the building and burning it down."

The bottom line: "I don't care what side of the issue you are on," Wray said of divisive issues. "You don't get to use violence or threats of violence."

Of note: Wray confirmed to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that the FBI was concerned about the threat of a terrorist attack on the U.S. emanating from Afghanistan and the loss of intelligence sources in the country since U.S. troops withdrew last year.

  • "I'm worried about the possibility that we will see al-Qaeda reconstitute, ISIS-K potentially taking advantage of the deteriorating security environment, and I'm worried about terrorists, including here in the United States, being inspired by what they see over there," he said.
  • Wray also addressed the recent U.S. drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, saying he wasn't surprised that al-Zawahiri was living in the country.

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