top of page

Domestic Terrorism, cont'd

In September 2020, FBI Director Wray told the U.S. Congress: “Within the domestic terrorism bucket, the category as a whole, racially motivated violent extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group.  And within the racially motivated violent extremist bucket, people subscribing to some kind of White supremacist-type ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that.”


Wray continued, “Of the domestic terrorism threats, we last year elevated racially motivated extremism to be a national threat priority commensurate with homegrown violent extremists.”  He said he put the threat on the same level as “jihadist-inspired people here.”


The following month, the FBI charged six people affiliated with two White supremacist, neo-Nazi groups — Atomwaffen Division and The Base — for a thwarted plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  Federal prosecutors also charged 13 people for plotting to start a civil war with the purpose of overthrowing the United States government.


Also in September 2020, then acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told Congress, “When White supremacists act as terrorists, more people per incident are killed,” and then acting director of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that White supremacists presented “the most persistent and lethal threat when we talk about domestic violent extremists.”


That same month, The Wall Street Journal reported that: “White supremacists were responsible for the most ideologically inspired extremist homicides in recent years, overtaking salafist and jihadist killings in the U.S., according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.  In 2019, White supremacists were responsible for 29 homicides, up from 17 in 2018, according to the center."


This all reached critical mass on January 6, 2021, when many of these groups converged to assault the United States Capitol.  They showed up ready for battle, and several had the intention of killing and/or kidnapping the vice president and other members of Congress.  


The Proud Boys were there.  This far-right nationalist group is dedicated to “reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism” in America. Before the Capitol riot, one of its leaders, Joe Biggs, wrote: “Every law makers who breaks their own stupid F---ing laws should be dragged out of office and hung.”  


Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, appropriately known as “Spaz,” was one of the first to breach the Capitol.  But his boys weren’t far behind! Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson explained, “The defendants’ actions show planning, determination, and coordination,” then charged Spaz and his buddy William Pepe with conspiracy.


The Three Percenters were there.  This right-wing paramilitary-style outfit named themselves for the 3 percent of the American population that fought the British Army in the Revolution.


In the weeks before January 6th, the founder of the group, Stewart Rhodes, assured people that The Three Percenters would provide security in Washington, with “some of our most skilled special warfare veterans standing by armed, just outside D.C.”
 

As the big day drew closer, the group encouraged people to join “President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup...prepare yourselves for whatever may come.  Prepare your mind, body, and spirit for battle, and above all else, prepare to STAND!”
 

The Oath Keepers certainly wouldn’t have missed the fun (although, we wonder if they still think it’s fun after being charged with seditious conspiracy). This far-right militia-style group, made up of largely former law enforcement and military veterans, “believes that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights,” according to the FBI.


We cannot, under any circumstance, allow anyone to distract us with false narratives that take the heat off alt-right and White nationalist groups who, quite frankly, are getting scarier by the minute.


On January 27, 2021, three weeks after the Capitol assault, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning about the growing threat of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists”: “Violent riots have continued in recent days and we remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances and ideological causes fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence.”


A report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in March 2021 says that “[Domestic Violent Extremist] attackers often radicalize independently by consuming violent extremist material online and mobilize without direction from a violent extremist organization, making detection and disruption difficult.” 


The report underscores that White supremacists have “the most persistent and concerning transnational connections because individuals with similar ideological beliefs exist outside of the United States.”  It revealed that some White supremacists had already “traveled abroad to network with like-minded individuals,” and warns that these groups may get “escalating support from persons in the United States or abroad.”


In May 2021, a joint analysis by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that:

The FBI and DHS assessed Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs), primarily those advocating for the superiority of the White race, likely would continue to be the most lethal Domestic Violent Extremists (DVE) threat to the Homeland.  
 

Our agencies had high confidence in this assessment based on the demonstrated capability of RMVEs in 2019 to select weapons and targets to conduct attacks, and the effectiveness of online RMVE messaging calling for increased violence. The year 2019 represented the most lethal year for DVE attacks since 1995, with five separate DVE attacks resulting in 32 deaths, 24 of which occurred during attacks conducted by RMVEs advocating for the superiority of the White race.

* find sources for this section here.

bottom of page