FBI director warns of increase in threats amid Israel-Hamas war

Warning comes after a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in Illinois in what police say was an anti-Muslim hate crime linked to the Israel-Hamas war

Martha McHardy
Monday 16 October 2023 06:50 EDT
Palestinian-American Boy Fatally Stabbed By Landlord In Hate Crime

FBI Director Christoper Wray has warned of an increase in terror threats to the US amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in San Diego, California, on Sunday, Mr Wray warned of the increased risk of “lone actors” carrying out terror attacks in the US in the vein of those carried out by Hamas in Israel.

“In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own,” he said.

He also urged people to remain vigilant and said the bureau is committed to confronting threats both in the US and overseas.

His remarks come as tensions have been mounting on US soil since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel on 7 October, prompting Israel to carry out strikes on Gaza.

Over the weekend, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in a Chicago suburb in what police say was an anti-Muslim hate crime linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed 26 times and his 32-year-old mother, Hanaan Shahin, more than 12 times in the shocking attack at a property in Plainfield Township, outside Chicago, on Saturday morning.

Joseph Czuba, 71, was arrested in connection with the attack and charged with a hate crime, as well as first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery.

The suspect, who lived on the ground floor of the home the six-year-old and his mother lived in, allegedly knocked on their door and attempted to choke the mother, before shouting “You Muslims must die” and stabbing her and her son.

The six-year-old was rushed to hospital but later died. His mother remains in a serious condition but is expected to survive.

Police said that the boy and his mother were “targeted” due to their Muslim faith and the “on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis”.

Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed to death outside Chicago

“What we have is a murdered Palestinian child by someone who is radicalized by the environment in which we live right now, that casts Palestinians as human animals,” Ahmed Rehab, executive director of The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) told reporters on Sunday.

The organisation also said they have seen a spike in hate calls and emails since the violence in the Middle East broke out.

Hamas militants stormed into Israel early on the morning of 7 October, killing hundreds of people and taking dozens captive across the Gaza border in a devastating attack that caught Israel’s security forces by surprise.

More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in the assault, with thousands more believed to be injured and nearly 200 people taken hostage by Hamas. At least 29 Americans are among the dead, the White House confirmed.

Meanwhile, at least 2,750 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes by Israeli forces since Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a state of war on Saturday and promised “mighty vengeance”.

Joseph Czuba has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery, and two counts of hate crime

Last week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered the “complete siege” of Gaza as authorities cut off electricity and blocked the entry of food and fuel.

Four days later, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ordered all Gaza civilians to leave the area and head southward as it prepared to launch a ground invasion in retaliation for Hamas’ attacks, forcing at least one million people to flee their homes.

On Sunday, international mediators appeared close to striking a deal for Egypt to open the southern border to allow foreign citizens to escape the Israeli bombardment and feared ground offensive.

But hospitals in Gaza remain overwhelmed, with medics on the ground warning that thousands could die as the wounded cannot be moved and they are running out of critical supplies.

According to the United Nations, hospitals in the region are expected to run out of generator fuel within two days.

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