The Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a new post to fight domestic terrorism. The new position will coordinate investigations into a phenomena that has killed more Americans than foreign terrorism since 9/11.
The DOJ did not say who would take the new role but said that the position’s responsibilities include assisting federal prosecutors working on domestic terrorism cases.
In recent years, the U.S. government’s counterterrorism policy has largely focused on Islamist radicals. This is largely a reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, attacks from right-wing radicals have largely been overlooked by officials. This is despite the fact that attacks from rightwing radicals have led to more deaths than “homegrown jihadists” since 9/11, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In fact, since the twin towers were hit, self-proclaimed jihadists have killed 26 people in the U.S. whereas rightwing radicals have killed 48, so says statistics provided by the New America Foundation.
“We’ve seen lone actor attacks about every 33 days, mostly white supremacist or anti-government extremists,” Heidi Beirich of SPLC told NBC News. “Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate — anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs. When it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs.”
The most notable attack by a white supremacist this year was in Charleston, South Carolina in June. A young man entered the Emanuel A.M.E. church, sat for an hour with worshippers, then shot and killed nine black Americans. He had regularly posed with flags that represented his white supremacist views.
“We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups,” Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said during a speech at George Washington University this past week.
During the talk, Carlin said he has spoken to many local law enforcement officials and that they’ve identified the largest domestic threat: people who call themselves sovereign citizens. A sovereign citizen believes that they are no beholden to any laws, courts, or law enforcement officials. “Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States,” Carlin said.