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FBI ‘increasingly concerned’ about Moscow-style attack in US

The agency’s director claims that he needs to carry out warrantless mass surveillance to defeat the alleged threat

FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned that terrorist groups could be planning a “coordinated attack” on the US, similar to the Crocus City Hall massacre near Moscow last month.

Speaking at a budget hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Wray told lawmakers that Hamas’ October 7 assault on Israel inspired “a rogue’s gallery of foreign terrorist organizations” to call for attacks on the US and its allies. In addition to this supposed threat, Wray added that “the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russian concert hall a couple weeks ago” is ‘increasingly concerning.”

The Crocus City Hall massacre involved four gunmen who stormed the venue ahead of a concert late last month. They made their way to the main auditorium, shooting indiscriminately, and set the building on fire. Over 140 people were killed.

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The suspects, all Tajik nationals, were arrested on the night of the attack near the Ukrainian border. They later told interrogators that they took instructions from a handler who had prepared an escape route to Ukraine and promised them money upon arrival in Kiev.

Wray and other American officials have blamed the incident solely on ISIS-K, the Afghanistan-based offshoot of the international terrorist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). While ISIS-K has claimed responsibility, the Russian Investigative Committee claims to have found evidence that the suspects conspired with members of the Ukrainian security services and received “significant sums of money” from Ukraine before the attack.

Earlier this week, the Investigative Committee announced that Burisma Holdings – a Ukrainian energy firm linked to the family of US President Joe Biden – had handled money “used in recent years to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia.”

Wray did not elaborate on whether his agents had uncovered any concrete plans by terrorist groups to attack the US. However, he did use the hearing to urge lawmakers to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which grants the US permission to monitor internet and phone communications from abroad made through American networks like Google.


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“It’s critical in securing our nation, and we’re in crunch time,” Wray said, claiming that he would “be hard pressed to think of a time where so many threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated all at once.”

At the behest of former President Donald Trump, a group of conservative Republicans blocked a vote on reauthorizing the controversial provision on Wednesday. Although intended to surveil foreigners, Section 702 can be used by US intelligence agencies to access the communications of Americans without a court warrant, and the pro-Trump Republicans have demanded that a renewed Section 702 come with stronger safeguards against abuse.

 

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