Updated Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

FBI "moving quickly" to stop threats to Jews, Muslims in U.S. amid Israel-Hamas war

chris wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 5. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI is "moving quickly" to stop a growing number of reported threats against Jewish and Muslim people across the U.S. amid the Israel-Hamas war, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes have surged in the wake of Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, illustrating one of the ways the conflict abroad is impacting Americans at home.

The big picture: Violent extremists have sought to target Jews and Muslims in the U.S. through "physical assaults, bomb threats, and online calls for mass casualty attacks," Wray said in statement for the record Tuesday for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • "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," Wray said.
  • "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," he added.

Of note: In his remarks to the committee, Wray said the FBI has handled an increasing number of hate crime investigations over the past few years — a "particularly big chunk" of which targeted the Jewish community.

  • This trend has "only gotten worse" since Oct. 7, he told senators.
  • Hate crimes targeting Jews make up roughly 60% of religiously-based hate crimes, Wray added.

State of play: Wray previously warned that "violent extremists" in the U.S. and abroad could draw inspiration from the Hamas attack.

  • The FBI does not have any information indicating that Hamas has the "intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S.," Wray said Tuesday.
  • Yet there has been a "steady drumbeat of calls for attacks by foreign terrorist organizations" since Oct. 7, and FBI agents are "working around the clock" to identify and stop these potential attacks, Wray testified.
  • The FBI has sought to deal the spike in hate crimes in recent years by working with law enforcement partners to identify and pursue cases, making cases a higher priority, and increasing outreach to local communities to counter the underreporting of hate crimes, Wray said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional remarks from Wray.

Go deeper