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FBI Director Christopher Wray: Hamas biggest terror ‘inspiration’ since ISIS – NY Post

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FBI Director Christopher Wray informed Congress on Tuesday about “elevated” domestic terror threats in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel, …

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AP Headline News – Oct 31 2023 18:00 (EDT)

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Israel-Hamas war live: IDF confirms Israel carried out airstrike on Gaza refugee camp, saying it killed top Hamas commander – The Guardian

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Israel-Hamas war live: IDF confirms Israel carried out airstrike on Gaza refugee camp, saying it killed top Hamas commander  The Guardian

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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 593 of the invasion – The Guardian

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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 593 of the invasion  The Guardian

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Wray warns of increased terrorist threat, says U.S. is in a ‘dangerous period’

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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on Nov. 15, 2022.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday the war between Israel and Hamas has led to a spike in threats against the United States, warning that “we are in a dangerous period” as various terrorist groups look to leverage the conflict for their own causes.

The threat of international terrorism in the U.S. had largely subsided in recent years, particularly since the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But senior American officials say Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel has created a new dynamic with dangerous implications at home and abroad.

“The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” Wray said in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Hamas’ attack, which killed some 1,400 people in Israel, “will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate years ago,” Wray said.

He said the FBI has no evidence of a imminent threat from a foreign terrorist group, but he noted that since Hamas’ attack on Israel, al-Qaida has issued its most specific call for violence against the U.S. in years, while the Islamic State has urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the United States and Europe.

Israel-Gaza conflict is being used in extremist propaganda

Christine Abizaid, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told lawmakers that the Israel-Hamas war has featured in messaging and propaganda since Oct. 7.

“We’ve seen it from al-Qaida affiliates, almost every single one of them,” she told lawmakers, referring to terrorist groups in the Mideast and Africa with ties to al-Qaida. “We’ve also seen it from ISIS, which isn’t ideologically aligned with a group like Hamas but is still leveraging this current conflict to try to sow the kind of violence, bring adherence to its cause in a kind of exploitative way.”

On the home front, Wray said the biggest concern for the FBI is that violent extremists — including people inspired by foreign terrorist groups but also domestic violent extremists — will draw inspiration from the ongoing conflict to carry out attacks against Americans.

“We’ve seen that already with the individual we arrested last week in Houston, who’d been studying how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews,” Wray said. “And with the tragic killing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois in what we’re investigating as a federal hate crime.”

But Wray said he’s also concerned about traditional, formal terrorist organizations like al-Qaida, ISIS or Hezbollah potentially carrying out strikes in the U.S.

“We are not currently tracking an imminent, credible threat from a foreign terrorist organization, a structured attack here or something like that, but it is something that we think heightened vigilance is warranted for,” he said.

“It is a time to be concerned,” he said. “We are in a dangerous period.”

At the same time, he urged Americans not to be intimidated.

“This is not a time for panic, but it is a time for vigilance,” he said. “We shouldn’t stop conducting our daily lives, going to schools, houses of worship and so forth. But we should be vigilant.”

Iran and its proxies

Abizaid said the U.S. has no intelligence that indicates Iran or its proxies, most notably the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, “had any foreknowledge” of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

But she said the U.S. remains focused on Iranian activities — and those of its allies — targeting American interests since the war’s outbreak. She noted that militant groups aligned with Tehran have conducted 24 attacks against American forces in Iraq and Syria.

Despite those strikes, she said Washington doesn’t believe Iran currently is interested in escalating the conflict.

“We assess Iran, Hezbollah and their linked proxies are trying to calibrate their activity, avoiding actions that would open up a concerted second front with the U.S. or Israel while still exacting costs in the midst of the current conflict,” she said.

“This is a very fine line to walk and, in the present regional context, their actions carry the potential for miscalculation thus requiring heightened scrutiny in the region and we monitor for signs that the conflict could spread.”

On the domestic front, she said she has no indications of any Iranian threat inside the U.S., though she cautioned that Iran has a “significant escalatory capability” that it could call on if Tehran decided it wanted to ramp up the conflict.


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The FBI warns of an increased terrorist threat – NPR

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The FBI warns of an increased terrorist threat  NPR

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The FBI director warns about threats to Americans by those inspired by the Hamas attack on Israel – WDIV ClickOnDetroit

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The FBI director warns about threats to Americans by those inspired by the Hamas attack on Israel  WDIV ClickOnDetroit

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Video: Netanyahu Says Israel Will Not Accept a Cease-Fire With … – The New York Times

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Video: Netanyahu Says Israel Will Not Accept a Cease-Fire With …  The New York Times

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Israel’s war will not eliminate Hamas … it will eliminate Netanyahu – Middle East Monitor

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Israel’s war will not eliminate Hamas … it will eliminate Netanyahu  Middle East Monitor

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Trump’s violent rhetoric echoes the fascist commitment to a destructive and bloody rebirth of society

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Former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has regularly bordered on the incitement of violence. Lately, however, it has become even more violent. Yet both the press and the public have largely just shrugged their shoulders.

As a political philosopher who studies extremism, I believe people should be more worried about this.

Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is guilty of “treason,” Trump said in September 2023, just for reassuring the Chinese that the U.S. had no plans to attack in the waning days of the Trump administration. And for this, Trump says, Milley deserves death.

And back in April, Trump said that his indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg would result in “death and destruction.” Then, in early October, Trump urged people to “go after” Letitia James, the New York attorney general who filed suit against him for business fraud.

Trump’s prior rhetoric is also now on record as having inspired many of those convicted to engage in insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

But it is not just government officials whom Trump suggests be targeted for extrajudicial killings. Mere shoplifters should be killed too. “Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving,” Trump said to cheers at the California Republican Party convention in September.

With some wielding weapons and wearing protective gear, rioters clash with police on the steps of an entrance to the U.S. Capitol.

Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Brent Stirton via Getty Images News

More than crazy bluster

This rhetoric may seem like crazy bluster, which is no doubt why many people appear prepared to ignore it. But put in its historical context, what Trump is doing is echoing views that are part of a long tradition of illiberal and outright fascist thought. For fascists have always seen the use of violence as a virtue, not a vice.

First, this is the natural result of the way that fascist communities define themselves. According to Carl Schmitt, a prominent Nazi and for a time the official legal theorist of the party under Adolf Hitler, one builds and maintains a community by identifying and vilifying its enemies. And in this kind of highly polarized environment, the threat of violence always hangs in the air.

Second, among fascists, machismo is much admired. Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose own outrageous rhetoric has also encouraged violent behavior by his supporters, simply “beamed” when Russian President Vladimir Putin praised him for his masculinity.

Trump often acts as a sycophant for Putin too, and machismo also is a big part of Trump’s own public persona.

Third, fascists are obsessed with purity. They long for a world where they can live among their own racial, ethnic, religious and ideological kind on land they view as exclusively theirs.

But in the real world, people are too intermixed for this to occur naturally. True purity of community is an aspiration that can be made real only through violence and subjugation. Hence the Holocaust,genocide and ethnic cleansing, and other more limited attacks on minority and immigrant populations.

Violence as noble and intoxicating

Fascists, then, see violence as noble and intoxicating. For example, Julius Evola, a far-right intellectual active in Italy from 1920 to 1970 and the author, among other things, of “Fascism Viewed from the Right” and “A Handbook for Right-Wing Youth,” writes that violence “offers man the opportunity to awaken the hero that sleeps within him.”

Today, Evola is a favorite of the alt-right, and he suggests that a hero’s death is preferable to a life built on liberal compromise. “The moment the individual succeeds in living as a hero,” Evola writes, “even if it is the final moment of his earthly life, weighs infinitely more on the scale of values than a protracted existence consuming monotonously among the trivialities of cities.”

The ultraconservative Catholic authoritarian and opponent of the French Revolution Joseph de Maistre, who is recognized as one of the intellectual forefathers of fascism, goes even further.

“The whole earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but a vast altar upon which all that is living must be sacrificed without end, without measure, without pause, until the consummation of things, until evil is extinct, until the death of death,” Maistre writes. Indeed, without an executioner, the man who kills other men, Maistre claims society could not exist. For violence is necessary to satisfy “men’s natural desire to be destructive,” he writes; it leaves them feeling “exalted and fulfilled.”

With the Washington Monument in the background, a group of protesters march.

Patriot Front – labeled a ‘white supremacist group’ by the Anti-Defamation League – marches in Washington, D.C., in May 2023. Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Social disruption and destruction

These comments make clear that fascists see violence as something to be used for more than just personal retribution and intimidation. It is to be used to create wider social disruption and destruction. Not only are individuals to be subject to attack, but institutions and norms as well.

Consider “The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy,” a work by two amateur historians popular on the far right.

The book is actually a restatement of Evola’s theory of historical regression, set forth in his “Revolt against the Modern World.”

The idea is that history moves in cycles, the first one being the best and each one thereafter representing a further decline. The fourth cycle is the worst, and it ends only when all existing social institutions are destroyed. This, in turn, is an application of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea that “one can build only in a space which has been previously razed to the ground.”

Then history will reset and cycle once again.

Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon admires these ideas so much he made a movie about them.

Trump appears to embrace these ideas too. “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great,” he says.

Viewed in this context, not taking Trump’s violent rhetoric more seriously seems dangerous indeed.


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