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Tag: domestic terrorism

Merrick Garland Remembers Oklahoma City Bombing on 26th Anniversary

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to crack down on domestic violent extremists in a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. 

Garland, who led the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols, said the same brand of domestic extremism still exists. 

“Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,” Garland said at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.”

Garland spoke about white supremacy during his confirmation hearing earlier this year, citing the Oklahoma City bombing. 

“I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the Federal Government,” Garland told lawmakers in February. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

Read Garland’s full speech here.

Wray to Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee about Capitol Attack, Domestic Extremists

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee.

By Steve Neavling

FBI Director Christopher Wray is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and senators are expected to grill him about the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, as well as the rising threat of domestic terrorism. 

The committee hearing marks his first testimony since the insurrection, which led to the deaths of at least five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

The FBI has come under fire for missing warning signs before the riot. 

Since the attack, the FBI has arrested more than 280 people accused of participating in the attack. 

Wray also is expected to be asked about the rising threat from white nationalists and other violent domestic extremists. 

During Wray’s last testimony before a congressional committee in September, he spoke about domestic extremists. 

“Trends may shift, but the underlying drivers for domestic violent extremism – such as perceptions of government or law enforcement overreach, sociopolitical conditions, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and reactions to legislative actions – remain constant,” Wray said told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

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.

Senate Confirms Mayorkas As Homeland Security Secretary

Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn in as DHS secretary. Photo via DHS.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as President Biden’s homeland security secretary, making him the first immigrant and Latino to lead the department.

He was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, with strong opposition from Republicans. 

Mayoraks is the first confirmed secretary in nearly two years.

About two weeks ago, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, blocked the fast-track confirmation process for Mayorkas, almost dashing Biden’s hopes for a quick confirmation. But a week later, the Senate Homeland Security Committee advanced his nomination to a full vote in Congress.

Mayorkas, 61 served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama and played a prominent role in the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term.  

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

At his confirmation hearing, Mayorakas pledged to combat homegrown domestic extremists, which has become an increasing national security threat. 

“The threat of domestic extremism is one of the greatest challenges that the Department of Homeland Security confronts,” Mayorkas said at the hearing, calling the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol “horrifying.”

Retired FBI Agent: There’s Likely to Be An Act of Domestic Terrorism Whether Trump Wins or Loses

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Retired FBI agent Thomas O’Connor, a 23-year veteran of the Washington, D.C., field office, is a specialist in domestic extremist groups who talks on Deadline TV about guns at political rallies, the changing ideology of militia groups and the possible unrest after Nov. 3 voting.

“I think unfortunately no matter who is elected, the opposite side has a strong enough radical base right now that there will be a reaction to the action of a person being elected,” O’Connor says. “One side or the other is likely to have people who are willing to step outside the legal bounds of protest and and do an act which actually fulfills the definition of domestic terrorism. And I hope I’m wrong. … I don’t think I’m going to be proven wrong.”

O’Connor left the bureau last September and now heads FEDSquaredConsulting, which trains people in government and the private sector about counterterrorism and extremist groups.

He talks with ticklethewire.com editor Allan Lengel, who is also editor of Deadline Detroit.

Watch 13-Minute Axios Interview Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf’s interview with Axios.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf discussed Portland protests, systemic racism, domestic terrorism and other issues in this 13-minute interview with Axios.

Wolf pushed back against “this idea that we have systemic racism.”

“That means that we have designed a system that every law enforcement officer that goes through a law enforcement academy, a training facility, is somehow installed with racist views,” Wolf says.

He adds, “Again, I’m not saying that there’s not racist tendencies in some law enforcement officers. I think I wanna be clear about that. But again, what people mean by systemic racism is that we have designed an institution, a law enforcement institution, to be racist from the get-go. And I just — I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t believe in that.”

Other members of Trump’s administration who have denied systemic racism are White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Attorney General Bill Barr.

The Government Accountability Office said last week that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, were not appointed through a valid process and therefore aren’t legally qualified to hold their positions. The Trump administration rejected the findings, saying the were “erroneous.”

Watch the full interview here:

Homeland Security Warns of Violent Extremists Using Coronavirus to Incite Violence

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus outbreak has fueled threats from domestic terrorists and violent extremists who are angry about social-distancing measures.

In an intelligence note to law enforcement officials across the country, the Department of Homeland Security said the threat will persist “until the virus is contained and the normal routine of U.S. societal life resumes.”

The April 23 memo, obtained by POLITICO, references recent arrests involving people who are angry about the restrictions and exploiting the pandemic to incite violence. Some have threatened elected officials and government facilities.

“Recent incidents and arrests nationwide illustrate how the COVID-19 pandemic is driving violent actors—both non-ideologically and ideologically motivated—to threaten violence,” the memo reads. “These incidents indicate that COVID-19 is serving as the impetus for some domestic terrorist plots.”

The memo continues, “As the COVID-19 threat expands throughout the United States, the violent extremist threat will also continue to evolve, potentially increasing in frequency and severity.”

The FBI has warned law enforcement officials of similar threats.

Hate Groups, Fueled by Conspiracy Theories May Exploit Coronavirus to Target Attacks, Feds Warn

Timothy Wilson is accused of plotting to detonate a bomb near a hospital, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Hate groups, fueled by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, may incite violence in the midst of the outbreak, national security officials warn in an intelligence bulletin fringe the FBI, Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Center.

The report, first obtained by CNN, also warns that extremists may target hospitals, grocery stores, and even police officers enforcing social-distancing measures.

Recent plots were uncovered in the past two weeks, including a Missouri man accused of plotting to detonate a car bomb at a hospital and a train engineer who said he intentionally crashed his train near a naval hospital ship that he believed was preparing for a government takeover.

Asian-Americans and Jewish people also have been targeted with threats because of conspiracy theories blaming them for the spread of the virus.

CNN wrote:

While the FBI has become increasingly focused on combating domestic terrorism in recent years as the number of reported hate crimes has increased, the recent warnings have reflected an elevated concern that the pandemic and the changes to American society that it has caused were creating more perceived reasons and opportunities for extremists to act.

While the FBI has become increasingly focused on combating domestic terrorism in recent years as the number of reported hate crimes has increased, the recent warnings have reflected an elevated concern that the pandemic and the changes to American society that it has caused were creating more perceived reasons and opportunities for extremists to act.

Some hate groups are claiming that government responses to the outbreak could crash the global economy and lead to a race war, the bulletin states, potentially working to incite people who are facing economic hardship and social isolation in the meantime to commit acts of violence.
Others have commented that they should exploit holes in policing left by law enforcement who’ve contracted the virus themselves or are diverted to enforcing stay-at-home orders.