‘Blinking Lights Everywhere’: FBI Director Warns of Terror Threat as Congress Debates Border Security
“I see blinking lights everywhere I turn,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. The director was not disclosing a vision disability but responding to a question about the elevated threat of terrorism following Hamas’s October 7 terror attack on Israel. Among other vulnerabilities, Wray pointed to the wide-open southwest border — a problem which House Republicans want to solve but which Senate Democrats refuse to address.
When Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Wray to describe the current “threat matrix” facing the U.S., he replied that the current environment was “unique” because, “while there may have been times over the years where individual threats could have been higher here or there than where they may be right now, I’ve never seen a time where all the threats, or so many of the threats, are all elevated, all at exactly the same time.”
In response, Graham asked about the “blinking red lights analogy about 9/11.” Said Graham, “all the lights were blinking red before 9/11, apparently. Obviously, all of us missed it. Would you say that there’s multiple blinking red lights out there?”
Wray’s next answer was ominous: “I see blinking lights everywhere I turn.”
“We are in … a heightened threat environment from foreign terrorist organizations for a whole host of reasons,” Wray added, “the threat level has gone to a whole other level since October 7.”
In a new joint bulletin on terrorism, which does not yet appear to be publicly available, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice warned local, state, and federal law enforcement that terror groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS may exploit the Israel-Hamas war “to increase calls for violence in the U.S. during the holiday season compared to prior years.” According to CBS News, the bulletin lists the most likely “primary targets” as churches, synagogues, and Jews.
Upon further questioning, Wray admitted would-be terrorists had the “ability to exploit any port of entry, including our southwest border …. We have seen an increase in so-called KSTs, ‘known or suspected terrorists,’ attempting to cross over the last five years.”
In fiscal year 2023 (which ended on September 30), 169 foreigners on the terrorist watchlist were apprehended while attempting to illegally enter the country. Over the same period, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded 3.2 million “encounters” nationwide, with 2.4 million of those occurring at the southwest border, according to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Since President Biden took office, CBP has recorded 7.5 million encounters, including 6.2 million at the southwest border. CBP has also recorded 1.7 million “known gotaways,” where someone entered the country illegally and escaped apprehension — and that’s just the number we know about. For perspective, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that approximately 10.2 million illegal immigrants were living in the U.S. in January 2021.
One would expect the “gotaways” to contain a higher proportion of would-be terrorists than those apprehended at the border, since one would expect would-be terrorists to try to get away. However, even if terrorists got away in exactly the same proportion as they were apprehended in the last fiscal year, that still means that roughly 90 terrorists have crossed into America undetected since Biden became president. That’s more than four times the number of terrorists who carried out the 9/11 terror attack.
“The policy they’ve put in place is not working. And just spending more money is not the answer either,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) agreed. “The issue here is, how do we change the behavior of a lawless president to actually enforce the laws on the books? It won’t take more money. It’s not more policy. It’s how do we change the behavior?”
House Republicans have heeded the warnings from top administration officials about a heightened terror risk and have made border security a top priority. In response to calls by congressional Democrats to pass another round of funding for Ukraine, a sizable number of House Republicans have dug themselves in on securing our own country’s border first. “There is a strong group here that [would fund] Ukraine, if it’s tied to the border,” Self explained. “So, it will be tied to the border, enforceable border elements.”
The House of Representatives already passed a bill to that effect, but Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) that securing the southern border was “a non-starter.” Self believed Schumer was misreading the situation. “Folks, this is the way it’s going to be. Funding starts in the House of Representatives,” he said.”
Bolstered by the House’s strong stand, Senate Republicans have now found the courage they lacked on the military abortion policy to stand against the Left’s radical agenda. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday, “I hope all of our members vote no on the motion to proceed to the shell [bill advanced by Schumer] to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border.”
Hopefully those changes aren’t already too late. National security alarms don’t operate like a “check engine” light. Preventing another major terror attack on U.S. soil should not be a political negotiating chip to exchange on Capitol Hill. When there are “blinking lights everywhere,” America must respond, and quickly.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.