Christopher Wray
Christopher WrayReuters/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Wednesday that his organization remains particularly concerned that lone actors could target large gatherings, high-profile events or symbolic targets ahead of the beginning of the holiday of Passover next week, Haaretz reported.

"This is not a time for panic," Wray told a briefing organized by the Secure Community Network, "but it is a time for continued vigilance."

"Even before October 7 the threat to Jewish Americans had already elevated," he added. "In the six months since then, we've seen those threats elevated," he continued, adding the FBI opened three times more anti-Jewish hate crime investigations between October and January than in the four months before October 7.

Wray noted there has been a marked increase in hoaxes — including fake bomb and active shooter threats — but insisted that hoaxes disrupt activities while intimidating and terrorizing individuals and communities alike.

He repeated what he has told US lawmakers over the course of the past six months — that foreign terror organizations have increased calls for attacks against the US and its allies, highlighting Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) and affiliate organizations in addition to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Noting the close proximity to Iran's attack against Israel, Wray said that "due to the sheer volatility and fluidity of the environment abroad, we are urging all of our partners here and around the world to stay vigilant when it comes to potential threats that may emerge from Iran or its proxies — both overseas and even here in the homeland."

The FBI chief’s comments come a day after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published a new report which found that the Jewish community in the US has experienced an unprecedented rise in antisemitic incidents in 2023, far beyond any numerical data recorded in the last 45 years.

The ADL reported 8,873 incidents of assault, harassment, and vandalism across the US.

This is a 140% increase compared to 2022, which was considered a peak year for antisemitic events.

An examination of the antisemitic incidents by the Anti-Defamation League also indicates a dramatic jump comprising 5,204 antisemitic events after October 7, a figure that reflects global trends, while Jewish communities around the world contended with increased tension and hatred in response to the slaughter and ongoing war – in campuses, public places, and anti-Israel demonstrations.

Last week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced legislation to combat rising antisemitism in the US.

The Countering Antisemitism Act was introduced by US Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK), along with Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC-6), Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), and Randy Weber (R-TX-14).

The bill would require the President to appoint a federal coordinator to oversee efforts to combat domestic antisemitism and create an interagency task force to ensure cooperation between government agencies on the issue.