Washington, Oct 31 (SocialNews.XYZ) US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress lawmakers that the US is in a “heightened threat environment” following Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel and listed a series of actions by President Joe Biden's administration to support law enforcement and assist communities in threat.
Mayorkas said that President Biden's administration is taking steps to assist communities under threat and law enforcement, by providing intelligence inputs on suspicious activities in neighbourhoods, issuing a joint intelligence bulletin in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
It’s also distributing funding to help secure places of worship and communicating with faith communities. Biden has already held meetings with faith leaders of certain communities, especially the Jewish community, reassuring them of governmental measures to ensure their safety.
“We are engaging extensively with faith communities, speaking with them about the steps that they can take to ensure that the individuals who practice, continue to practice, their faith, which is so foundational are able to do so with a sense of security,” Mayorkas was quoted by the CNN as saying.
Possible threats at "historic levels": FBI Director Christopher Wray endorsed Mayorkas’ statement to Congressmen during a parallel appearance before the Senate hearing, saying that his agency was also involved in outreach and tackling hate crimes.
“This is a threat that is reaching, in some way, sort of historic levels,” Wray said.
“The reality is that the Jewish community is uniquely, uniquely targeted by pretty much every terrorist organization across the spectrum. And when you look at a group that makes up 2.4 per cent roughly of the American population, it should be jarring to everyone that that same population accounts for something like 60 per cent of all religious-based hate crimes, and so they need our help,” Wray said.
Wray feared that any propaganda by any group may encourage violent extremists or other lone-wolf actors within the United States.
“Lone actors, home-grown violent extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations, are in many ways the biggest threat we face here in the homeland,” Wray said.
“To have this many foreign terrorist organizations this explicitly calling for attacks significantly … takes the threat level, the threat environment, the risk to a whole other level here,” he said.
Meanwhile, reports from war-torn Gaza said that over 400 American citizens and their family members – about 1,000 people in total – are stuck in the enclave in under ground cellars who want to leave, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday.
The top US diplomat said he and the State Department are “focused on this intensively.”“We've been in close communication, as best we can, with Americans who are stuck in Gaza. We've had about 5,500 communications that we've initiated — phone calls, emails, WhatsApp — to be in touch with them, to try to guide them as best we can, and to work for their ability to leave,” he said.
There are about 5,000 other third-country nationals in Gaza who also want to get out, Blinken said.
Blinken echoed other US officials in blaming Hamas for Americans being unable to leave Gaza. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said last week that Cairo is ready to process Americans and other foreign nationals if they are able to reach the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.
“We've not yet found a way to get them out by whatever, through whatever, place and by whatever means that Hamas is not blocking,” he said, adding the US is “working that with intermediaries.”
On Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Hamas has been “making a series of demands” to allow departure, but he would not go into details.