U.S. Justice Department forming unit to counter domestic terrorism

Written by on January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration is creating a new unit in the Justice Department to counter domestic terrorism following last year’s deadly U.S. Capitol attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“We face an elevated threat from domestic violent extremists – that is, individuals in the United States who seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals,” Matthew Olsen, the assistant attorney general of the department’s National Security Division, told a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Domestic violent extremists are often motivated by a mix of ideologies and personal grievances. We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen added.

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers https://www.reuters.com/world/us/white-supremacist-groups-pose-rising-us-threat-garland-says-2021-05-12 last May that domestic violent extremist groups, particularly white supremacists, pose a growing threat to the United States.

Olsen said the new unit will be housed within the National Security Division and will work to “ensure that these cases are properly handled and effectively coordinated” across the department and around the country.

The Justice Department has brought criminal charges against more than 725 people stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in which Trump supporters sought to stop Congress from certifying his loss to Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Some of the defendants are members or associated with far-right groups or militia including the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.

A top FBI official told Congress https://www.reuters.com/world/us/fbi-believes-us-faces-equal-threats-domestic-extremists-islamic-state-official-2021-11-03 in November that the bureau was conducting around 2,700 investigations related to domestic violent extremism.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)


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