Earlier this month, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that they were classifying racially motivated violent extremists a “national threat priority,” which means that white supremacist groups are now considered to be as dangerous as ISIS.
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, racially or ethnically motivated attacks represent a “huge chunk” of the FBI’s domestic terrorism investigations, and he also noted that the majority of these attacks are “fueled by some type of white supremacy.”
“They choose easily accessible weapons — a car, a knife, a gun, maybe an IED they can build crudely off the internet — and they choose soft targets. That threat is what we assess is the biggest threat to the homeland right now,” Wray said, according to CBS News.
In fact, according to Wray, the majority of the terrorist attacks to occur in the past several years were actually not from the usual suspects that people would expect, like ISIS, but were instead carried out by racist groups or individuals.
According to FBI data, the number of reported hate crimes were slightly down in 2018, following three years of increases.
Wray said that a new task force, the Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell, was launched last spring, with the intention of focusing on issues like this.
The fusion cell “brings together the expertise of both our domestic terrorism and our hate crime folks, so they’re working together to not just focus on the threats that have already happened, but to look ahead, around the corner, and anticipate where else we need to be,” Wray said.
Wray added that over 200 Joint Terrorism Task Forces agents from the FBI have been instructed to assist state and local law enforcement around the country, “to have domestic terrorism squarely in their sights.”
The FBI says that they arrested 107 domestic terrorists in 2019.
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