Citing the growing threat and rising caseload, the United States is creating a new entity to help investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Matthew Olsen told lawmakers on Tuesday that he was setting up the new unit as part of the Justice Department’s National Security Division to “make sure these cases are handled properly and effectively.” Go.”
“The threat posed by domestic terrorism is increasing,” Olsen said during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animosity as well as those who profess extremist anti-government and anti-incumbency ideologies.”
Olsen said the number of domestic terrorism investigations launched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has more than doubled since March 2020, and US intelligence officials are expected to remain at risk.
Olsen’s testimony comes less than a week after the US first anniversary of the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
More than 725 people have been arrested so far for their role in the riots. More than 325 of them have been charged with felony.
In September, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that the bureau’s domestic terrorism caseload had “exploded,” and warned that the prevention of terrorist attacks would be the FBI’s top priority “for the foreseeable future.”
On Tuesday, FBI Acting Assistant Director Jill Sanborn told lawmakers that domestic violent extremists carried out four attacks in 2021, killing 13 people.
“Many domestic violent extremists conspired to launch attacks because of personal grievances, including anger over the government’s responses to COVID-19, immigration policies and alleged election fraud,” Sanborn said.
“We assess domestic violent extremist responses to socio-political incidents and the circumstances under which the threat of violence will continue,” she said. “Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and anti-government or anti-incumbency violent extremists will continue to face the most serious threats.”
An unclassified US intelligence assessment released in March warned of a wider threat from domestic extremists, focusing its concern on criminals and small cells alone, all subscribing to a diverse set of violent ideologies but “recent political and social Inspired by events.”
President Joe Biden last year issued a strategy to combat domestic terrorism, calling for the hiring of additional domestic terrorism analysts, investigators and prosecutors.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, criticized Biden’s strategy for focusing too much on the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol and ignoring what he described as the anti-police riots, which have led to our Shook the country for seven. whole month. ,
“There was almost no mention of left-wing terrorism,” Grassley said in his opening statement, citing testimony by FBI Director Ray, “about the vulnerabilities in the left-wing domestic terrorism program that prevented the FBI from gaining that visibility. What they needed. The riots from that time till now.”
Democrat Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, alleged in his opening remarks that the threat scenario is more alarming by Republican lawmakers who have come out in support of former President Donald Trump’s allegations.
“He justified the worst attack on our Capitol since the War of 1812,” Durbin said. “And, in turn, they are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals.”