Global terror threat has skyrocketed due to Oct. 7 Hamas attack, Gaza war, experts warn

‘I’m hard-pressed to come up with a time when I’ve seen so many different threats, all elevated, all at the same time,’ said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

By Corey Walker, The Algemeiner

The threat of terrorist attacks in the West has escalated in the wake of the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and amid the ensuing war in Gaza, according to experts who spoke with The Algemeiner.

The brutal success of Hamas’ invasion of the Jewish state last fall, coupled with images emerging from Israel’s military operations against the terror group in Gaza, has sparked a new wave of radicalization, experts argued.

Of chief concern has been the emergence of a new wave of so-called “lone wolf” terrorists who gained inspiration from Islamist extremist groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) and have become further galvanized by the current conflict in the Middle East.

“The FBI and others have reported a sharp uptick in terrorist activity, including active recruitment and self-radicalization, since the Oct. 7 attacks and the Israeli response,” said Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“This applies across a wide ideological divide and geographic space,” Levitt added. “It includes both organized activities by established groups and lone actors who may be inspired by the sharp rise in terrorist propaganda produced against the backdrop of these events.”

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Senior US officials have similarly been warning about a heightened threat of terrorism since Oct. 7, when Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists invaded Israel, murdered 1,200 people, and kidnapped over 250 others as hostages.

“As I look back over my career in law enforcement, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a time when I’ve seen so many different threats, all elevated, all at the same time,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told NBC News in an interview last month.

Earlier in April, Wray told US lawmakers in congressional testimony that he believed small groups or individuals “will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home.” He noted that concerns were rising before Hamas’ attack, but “we’ve seen the threat from foreign terrorists rise to a whole other level after Oct. 7.”

Gen. Gregory Guillot, commander of US Northern Command, shared Wray’s sentiment while testifying before Congress in March.

Terrorist groups are using Israel’s war against Hamas to encourage more attacks against the US, Guillot argued.

However, he added, terrorism has become more dispersed and informal, making it more difficult to combat.

“The increasingly diffuse nature of the transnational terrorist threat challenges our law enforcement partners’ ability to detect and disrupt attacks plotting against the homeland and leaves us vulnerable to surprise,” Guillot said.

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Days earlier, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said that al Qaeda and ISIS have been inspired by Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules Gaza, to attack Americans and Israelis.

“While it is too early to tell, both al Qaeda and ISIS, inspired by Hamas, have directed supporters to conduct attacks against Israeli and US interests,” Haines testified to the US Senate Intelligence Committee.

“And we have seen how it is inspiring individuals to conduct acts of antisemitism and Islamophobic terror worldwide.”

She added that the Gaza war “will have a generational impact on terrorism.”

The US and its allies have spent years eroding the capabilities and networks of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS. Intelligence services have also improved their methods for identifying and thwarting terror plots.

As a result, experts believe that smaller-scale groups such as ISIS-K and radicalized individuals present the chief threats to the US homeland.

Experts also noted the threat posed by Iran, which the US government has consistently deemed the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

“The ongoing and primary terrorist threat is from the Iranian regime and its proxies,” said Marshall Wittman, a spokesperson for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“That is why it is critical that America stand with its ally, Israel, which is on the front lines in this struggle against Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian aggression. American national security interests are aligned with Israel’s battle against Iranian-sponsored terrorism which threatens regional stability in the Middle East.”

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Iran is the chief international sponsor of Hamas, providing the terror group with arms, funding, and training.

In addition to spurring a heightened threat of terrorism, the Oct. 7 massacre has also led to a global surge in antisemitism, making the Jewish community a likely target of potential terror plots.

The Anti-Defamation League released a report last month showing antisemitic incidents in the US rose 140 percent last year, reaching a record high.

Most of the outrages occurred after Oct. 7, during the ensuing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Meanwhile, antisemitic incidents have also skyrocketed to record highs in several other countries around the world, especially in Europe, since the Hamas atrocities.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has said that Oct. 7 unleashed a “tsunami of hate” against Jewish people.

Much of the antisemitism has manifested in the form of violent threats and attacks against Jewish individuals.

In late October, for example, authorities arrested a Cornell University student for threatening to “stab” and “slit the throat” of his Jewish classmates.

That same month, the FBI foiled a plot to bomb a Jewish gathering in Houston, Texas.