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Israel war, border security are top 2 threats facing the US

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard concerns that Hamas' attack will embolden other bad actors.
Israel war, border security are top 2 threats facing the US
Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 31, 2023

Tuesday's annual hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" took on a new importance with the war raging between Israel and Hamas.

"As the last few weeks have shown, the threat environment our department is charged with confronting has evolved and expanded constantly," said Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid all told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that they are worried Hamas' attack will embolden other bad actors, both in the U.S and abroad.

"Homegrown violent extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations are in many ways the biggest threat we face here in the homeland, and those lone actors will draw inspiration from all sorts of things," said Wray.

"Iran has a significant escalatory capability that if it intended to be escalatory in this current conflict, we should be very concerned," Abizaid said. 

Wray testified the threat facing Jews is reaching historic levels. He said the FBI is bringing its hate crimes investigators and its domestic terrorism teams together to combat the growing threat. 

Beyond Israel, both Democrats and Republicans pressed the trio on immigration and the southern border.

Director Wray testified that the FBI is targeting fentanyl at every level from the "pill mills" who produce the drugs to the organizations who smuggle it across the border and the gangs who distribute it on the streets.

"We well know that the trafficking of fentanyl is not specific to a nationality. Tragically, we have individuals from various countries of origin. We have American citizens trafficking in fentanyl. Fentanyl is a scourge that we must all work together to overcome," said Mayorkas. 

Secretary Mayorkas testified that his agency is surging staff and technology to the border, but he also stressed the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

A vast majority of the hearing focused on those two issues — border security and Israel — and those issues will likely figure prominently on the campaign trail for 2024.

SEE MORE: Biden administration pushes split Congress over aid to Israel, Ukraine

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