The Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed Wednesday it was opening up a slate of new probes into the terrorist group Hamas amid rising tensions in the Middle East.
Speaking to the House Committee on Homeland Security, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the agency was focusing on potential threats to the mainland United States as well as the group’s funding avenues.
“We also have a large number of tips and leads related specifically to Hamas and radicalization and recruitment,” Wray explained. “We are urgently running down every tip and lead.”
“We cannot — and do not — discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here, on our own soil,” he added.
Hamas has historically not been a top priority of U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement. As late as 2022, the group was not considered a direct threat in the White House’s national security strategy.
But Hamas’ ability to pull off the Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, where over 800 Israeli civilians are estimated to have been killed alongside 278 Israeli soldiers, has stoked concerns among U.S. intelligence officials.
Among those killed on Oct. 7 were about three dozen Americans, with another 10 unaccounted for. It is also unclear how many U.S. nationals Hamas took hostage.
Wray used fear about a potential attack on U.S. soil to urge lawmakers to reauthorize Section 702, a controversial tool that allows warrantless surveillance of foreigners even when they are talking to Americans.
The tool is set to expire at the end of December unless lawmakers vote to extend the law.
Several months ago, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — an independent government watchdog — recommended to Congress in a report that the tool be extended with new limits.
The tool’s “privacy and civil liberties risks can be reduced while preserving the program’s value in protecting Americans’ security,” the report found.
Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.