FBI concerned about possible coordinated attack in US after Russia massacre

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 4:03 AM

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI is concerned about the possibility of an organized attack in the United States similar to the one that killed scores at a Russian concert hall last month, the bureau’s director plans to tell a House of Representatives panel on Thursday.

“Looking back over my career in law enforcement, I’d 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,” Christopher Wray is set to tell lawmakers during a budget hearing. “But that is the case as I sit here today.”

The March 22 attack on a concert hall in suburban Moscow killed at least 144 people, the deadliest in Russia in 20 years. A branch of the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility, but Russian President Vladimir Putin, without citing evidence, has sought to blame Ukraine.

U.S. officials have been worried about the possibility of an attack carried out by an individual or small group inspired by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. But the FBI is growing concerned about a more coordinated attack following the concert massacre in Russia, Wray will say during testimony.

Of inceasing concern “is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall a couple weeks ago,” he will say.

Wray also plans to press lawmakers to renew a U.S. surveillance program set to expire this month, calling it an indispensable tool against U.S. adversaries. A modest overhaul of that program was blocked in the House on Wednesday amid concerns from members of both parties that it did not go far enough in curbing the government’s surveillance powers.

“It’s critical in securing our nation, and we’re in crunch time,” Wray plans to tell lawmakers.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; editing by Ross Colvin and Stephen Coates)