The European Union is warning of a “huge risk of terrorist attacks” this holiday season amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, while the FBI director said the U.S. agency is “working around the clock” to prevent attacks on Americans.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Tuesday said security is a major concern for the 27-nation bloc following a knife attack in Paris this weekend, which killed a German tourist and injured two other people.
“With the war between Israel and Hamas, and the polarization it causes in our society, with the upcoming holiday season, there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union,” Johansson said.
Johansson added that 30 million euros (about $32 million) will be made available to safeguard places of worship, among other things.
Meanwhile, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency is taking steps to protect Americans from any threats following Hamas’ October attack on southern Israel, which led Israel to launch a large-scale retaliation in Gaza.
“Given the steady drumbeat of calls for attacks by foreign terrorist organizations since Oct. 7, we’re working around the clock to identify and disrupt potential attacks by those inspired by Hamas’ horrific terrorist attacks in Israel,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a prepared statement, Wray said the “most likely threat” to Americans, and particularly Jewish, Muslim and Arab American communities, is “lone offenders” inspired by or reacting to the war.
Wray added that while there is concern that Hamas supporters could engage in violence on behalf of the militant group, so far there has been nothing to suggest that Hamas “has the intent or capability to conduct operations inside the U.S.” Still, he added that “we cannot, and do not, discount that possibility.”
He also pleaded with lawmakers to not allow Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to expire at the end of this month. The program allows the U.S. to monitor the communications of targeted foreigners outside the country without a warrant, which Wray said is crucial as the U.S. is dealing with multiple threats at once.
“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,” he said.