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Tag: Domestic extremism

DOJ to Launch Domestic Terrorism Unit Amid Alarming Rise in Cases

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is creating a new unit tasked with combating domestic terrorism. 

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen made the announcement during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post reports.

The move comes amid an alarming rise in domestic extremism. Olsen said the number of domestic extremism cases handled by the FBI have more than doubled since the spring of 2020. 

The new group will include a group of lawyers who will ensure that cases will be “handled properly and effectively coordinated” across the department and federal law enforcement .

“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” Olsen said.

More than 725 people have been charged for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray previously said that the number of agents and analysts working on domestic terrorism cases has more than tripled. 

White Supremacy Is Greatest Threat to U.S., Garland, Mayorkas Testify

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

By Steve Neavling

The heads of the Justice Department and Homeland Security warned senators Wednesday that white supremacy is the most serious threat facing the U.S. 

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the departments are cracking down on violent extremism.

“The department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally,” Mayorkas said. 

Garland said the Jan. 6 insurrection was “an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.”

“I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland said. 

He added, “We will use every appropriate tool at our disposal to deter and disrupt such criminal acts and to bring their perpetrators to justice.”

The Justice Department has charged more than 430 people in connection to the deadly riot. 

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy called the threat “uniquely dangerous” in his opening remarks. 

“Attacks and plots by domestic extremists are at historic highs, with the majority of them being planned by those on the far right espousing white supremacist and related ideologies,” Leahy said. “In 2020 alone, white nationalists and like-minded extremists conducted 67% of terrorist plots and attacks in the United States. We cannot deny we are facing a class of criminals who feel more emboldened than ever.”

Read Garland’s full comments here.

Biden’s Homeland Security to Combat Domestic Violence Extremism with New Funds

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The Biden administration plans to boost funding from the Department of Homeland Security to help study and prevent the rise of domestic violence extremism. 

“We have successfully advocated for additional funds. We intend to keep building on preventing domestic terrorism departmentwide,” a DHS official told NBC News.

The DHS’s Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention provides funding for projects aimed at combating domestic extremism. The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol underscores the threats from rising extremism. 

Under the Trump adminstatoin, the office provided $500,000 to allow American University to study the “growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist disinformation.” But the Trump administration also canceled a grant aimed at studying neo-Nazis. 

The Trump administration has been accused of ignoring the threats of domestic terrorism, a term that DHS didn’t use under Trump, according to Elizabeth Neumann, the former DHS’ assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention.

“We did expand domestic terrorism prevention under Trump, but when it came to questions of how we could change the domestic terrorism statute to charge people more easily, there were no adults at the White House who were willing to go there, nor was anyone willing to define the threat,” Neumann said.

Biden’s DHS isn’t shying away domestic violent extremism. 

“Domestic violent extremism poses one of the gravest threats to our homeland, and Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas has made clear that combatting it is a top priority. Our primary responsibility is to protect the safety and security of the American people, which means taking actions to prevent violence before it occurs,” a DHS spokesperson said.