The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has drawn attention for mixed messaging regarding credible domestic threats in the wake of the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict.
FBI Director Christopher Wray quickly reversed course five days after the federal agency stated on October 9 that it “does not have specific and credible intelligence indicating a threat to the United States stemming from the Hamas attacks in Israel.” Unfolding events continue to be monitored and could lead to an adjustment of security mechanisms, the statement added.
On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest ever airstrikes on Gaza. As of Monday, more than 4,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the Associated Press. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded, while over 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, have been taken hostage by militants, according to the AP.
“In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we’ve got to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own,” Wray said on Saturday during a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego, California.
Wray continued: “So, I encourage you to stay vigilant, because as the first line of defense in protecting our communities, you’re often the first to see the signs that someone may be mobilizing to violence. And I’d also ask you to continue sharing any intelligence or observations you may have. And on our end, we’re committed to doing the same so that together we can safeguard our communities.”
The FBI’s statements and conflicting narratives, according to some online posters and even former President Donald Trump, have led to more fears and anxiety following the attack by Hamas, which is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
In a post on Truth Social on October 9, Trump compared Hamas to “the same people…pouring into our once beautiful USA, through our TOTALLY OPEN SOUTHERN BORDER, at Record Numbers.”
“Are they planning an attack within our Country? Crooked Joe Biden and his BOSS, Barack Hussein Obama, did this to us!” the former president wrote.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has been described as unequivocal in his response to the Hamas attack, calling it “as consequential as the Holocaust” during a recent 60 Minutes appearance. He has been praised on both sides of the partisan divide for his staunch defense of Israel, including garnering praise from conservatives who have been his political adversaries.
But Biden added that it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza in response.
“Look, there’s a fundamental difference,” the president said. “Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust. And …I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians. They put…their headquarters where civilians are and buildings and the like. But to the extent they can separate out…the Israelis are going to do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians.”
Online users said Wray and the FBI should focus on “actual terrorists” at the U.S.-Mexico border than parents at school board meetings, referencing actions by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against schools and employees based on protocols involving mask mandates.
“Notice how none of these people are calling for solutions, such as closing our borders and mass deportation,” commented another user. “They WANT this invasion.”
Another X user stated: “US involvement in a large-scale war is a false flag away. It keeps happening because it keeps working.”
Newsweek reached out to the FBI via email for comment.