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Friday, December 31, 2021

The Threat of Domestic Terrorism

 Josh Meyer and Kevin Johnson at USA Today:

Washington failed to create a national strategy to counter right-wing extremism until the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol last January triggered an urgent reassessment of the threat, according to USA TODAY interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and a review of government documents. Federal agencies were slow to recognize the threat rising from the homeland and work together to counter it. Resources were poured into international terrorism while domestic extremist groups grew and operated in the open. Some key programs at the Justice Department and elsewhere were launched, stopped and then restarted. Investigators frequently lacked key sources to help them infiltrate movements and thwart attacks. Overlaying all of that, current and former officials say, was the fact that the U.S. government lacked a coordinated and sustained strategy to combat right-wing extremism. Now, one year after the assault on the Capitol, many of those officials question whether Washington is up to the task of containing a problem that has embedded itself deeply into the fabric of America.


In recent years, after authorities said right-wing domestic terrorists were a threat on par with the Islamic State group, the National Counterterrorism Center expanded its purview. It now has a small unit to help the FBI and DHS on domestic extremism. Now, “it’s not just militant Islamists but also militias in Michigan,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and former lead National Counterterrorism Center staffer on U.S. efforts to counter violent extremism.