There is a heightened sense of threats against the United States, and a sense of urgency to address them. That was the message from experts testifying Tuesday on Capitol Hill regarding threats to the homeland.
Both the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged that given worldwide uncertainty combined with the war between Israel and Hamas, it is a time to be concerned about terrorist threats to the homeland. They added no threats we face are getting any easier and the chance of an incident on U.S. soil has increased.
“Lone actors, homegrown violent extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations are in many ways the biggest threat we face here in the homeland,” testified FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Wray admitted the gaps in U.S. intelligence are real.
“What would you tell Americans right now about the threat today as compared to before?” asked Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).
“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” responded Wray. “We shouldn’t stop conducting our daily lives, going to schools, houses of worship, and so forth, but we should be vigilant.”
Wray also acknowledged threats to the Jewish community are at historic levels.
“The Jewish community is uniquely, uniquely targeted by pretty much every terrorist organization across, and when you look at a group that makes up 2.4%, roughly, of the American population, it should be jarring to everyone that that same population accounts for something like 60% of all religious-based hate crimes,” he said.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fielded questions on his agency’s attempts to keep track of known terrorists crossing the U.S. southern border.
“Individuals imposing risk to national security are of the highest importance,” Mayorkas said.
Mayorkas was also questioned on the impact of the millions of people who have illegally crossed into the U.S. under President Biden’s watch.
“Where did these 6 million people go?” asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “Are you keeping track of them? To what extent do we have a handle on where these 6 million people are in America?”
“Senator, as you well know, when an individual is indeed released, they are released into immigration enforcement proceedings and are subject to removal if they do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States,” Mayorkas responded.
One of Wray’s major concerns was the number of terrorist organizations explicitly calling for attacks in the U.S., which bumps the current threat risk to a whole new level.
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