US More than 300 charged in Capitol attack; domestic extremism growing threat: DOJ
Biden looks to FEMA to help combat domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack
The Biden administration is leaning on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help state and local authorities combat domestic extremism in the United States. © PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen at the new ICE Cyber Crimes Center expanded facilities in Fairfax, Virginia July 22, 2015. The forensic lab combats cybercrime cases involving underground online marketplaces, child exploitation, intellectual property theft and other computer and online crimes. AFP HOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J.
Department of Justice officials are warning that domestic violent extremism is a persistent problem in the U.S. just over a month after the deadly siege at the United States Capitol.
"The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing public safety andthreat," Carlin told reporters.
More than 300 individuals have been charged so far in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department announced on a call with reporters, with more than 280 arrested in what officials described as an investigation moving at "unprecedented" speed and scale.
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Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin and senior DOJ and FBI officials provided the first update on the DOJ's investigation into the Capitol riot in weeks, and outlined the department's broader mission in the coming months to address the domestic extremism threat facing the country.
Carlin said the DOJ's approach will primarily be informed by the comprehensive threat assessment examining domestic terrorism that President Joe Biden ordered be compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in coordination with other agencies. He said DOJ will issue updated guidance to agencies in the coming days that will help make sure DOJ's national security division has insight and contacts with all cases that have a nexus to domestic terrorism or domestic violent extremism.
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Security officials who resigned in the wake of the Capitol riot blamed intelligence failures — and each other Former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund appears before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs & Senate Rules and Administration joint hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, February 23, 2021, to examine the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Weighing in on "horrific attacks" reported recently, Carlin echoed the language in Friday morning's DOJ press release, stating, "No one in America should fear violence, because of who they are, or what they believe period. And these types of attacks have no place in our society. We will not tolerate any form of domestic terrorism or hate-based violent extremism, and we are committed to putting a stop to it."
The Justice Department on Friday issued a statement condemning attacks fueled by "bigotry and hatred" -- saying in the past months it has trained "hundreds of federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers" to identify and prosecute hate crimes and other civil rights violations.
The statement from Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general for DOJ's civil rights division, doesn't single out any specific minority group but comes as law enforcement around the country reportagainst Asian Americans.
Merrick Garland is right to prioritize domestic terrorism, but he'll need a bigger boat
Right-wing domestic extremism is not just a law enforcement problem to be dealt with by criminal prosecutions, as important a tool as those are. It requires a highly coordinated, well-funded, national cross-governmental initiative that addresses the problem in agencies such as the Defense Department and in state and local police forces, hardens potential targets and - this could be the toughest part - finds ways to thoroughly discredit election denial.The United States has been fortunate even in its worst disasters, as counterintuitive as that may sound. The U.S.
Karlan said DOJ's civil rights division is working closely with the FBI and U.S. attorney's offices around the country to evaluate possible hate crimes.
"When a crime is motivated by animus based on race, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity), disability, or citizenship, it causes a ripple effect across a community," Karlan said. "No one in the United States should live in fear of victimization because of who they are, how they worship, where they come from, or whom they love."
A senior FBI official told reporters that the primary terrorism threat to the U.S. homeland remains the "lone offender," including homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists who are primarily radicalized online and plot to attack soft targets with readily available weapons. The FBI currently has open domestic terrorism investigations across all 56 of its field offices around the country, the official said.
The official noted that FBI "can never open an investigation based solely around protected First Amendment rights" and they "do not investigate ideology."
Why labeling domestic extremists 'terrorists' could backfire
It is not clear that an official designation of domestic extremists as terrorists would confer additional benefits that would outweigh potential risks to U.S. civil liberties. Rather, it could exacerbate existing group tensions and grievances. Alternatively, a combined government effort that facilitates mitigation strategies to preempt violence by hate-groups, while also actively stemming the flow of online disinformation, may be a good first step in reducing homegrown extremism.David Stebbins is a senior policy analyst focusing on national security issues at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday used FEMA grants to also tackle the domestic violent extremist threat in the United States.
Communities receiving State Homeland Security Program and Urban Area Security Initiative grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be required to spend at least $77 million of those funds directly battling domestic violent extremism, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced.
While 2019 marked the deadliest year from the domestic violent extremist threat since the, the official said, 2020 was "unlike anything we've seen in decades" with the scale of violence around the country. Arrests were up from previous years of domestic terror subjects -- with approximately 180 arrests at the federal, state and local levels in the 2020 fiscal year.
Three of the four fatal domestic terror attacks in 2020 were committed by individuals ascribing to an anti-government or anti-authority violent extremist ideology, and marked the first attack by an anarchic violent extremist in over 20 years, the official said.
The FBI is increasingly alarmed, the official said, about the current cyber realm in which domestic extremists are operating using encrypted applications and platforms -- keeping out of investigators' reach much of their communications even when they are able to secure court-approved warrants.
Asked about testimony this week on Capitol Hill addressing potential threats to Biden's first joint address to Congress, the FBI official declined to confirm any specific intelligence but said more broadly the FBI was "watching very closely" for any reaction from extremists to the address.
"We have been worried that domestic violent extremists would react, not only to the results of an election that they might not see as favorable, but the transition of a government that they may question," the official said. "So I think for the near future as we continue to go through that process -- and I would view the first address to the nation part of that process -- that we are watching very closely for any reaction from individuals that would show either intent to commit an attack or somebody that has already committed one."
Don't let paranoia guide our response to extremism .
Radicalization is a real problem in the United States. © Provided by Washington Examiner Let’s go about fighting it the smart way, then, the opposite of the approach taken by members of the press and left-wing activists. As U.S. law enforcement officials work diligently to counter right-wing extremism, self-appointed Nazi hunters have indulged themselves in paranoia, wild-eyed handwringing, and enough ratings-driving fearmongering to choke a donkey.