US President Joe Biden’s administration wants to take stronger action against the “serious and growing threat” of domestic terrorism, including ensuring that various federal agencies are sharing the latest intelligence and responding accordingly.
Though the initiative follows the “heinous” attack on the US Capitol on January 6, domestic terrorism shows up in various forms, said Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday, listing various other deadly attacks in recent years.
These, he said, are not only a tragedy for the victims’ families, but a tragedy for the country.
He stressed that the US government needed to pursue domestic terrorism with the same vigour used for foreign terror threats.
US security agencies had concluded in an assessment in March that the threat was greatest from racially or ethnically motivated extremists who espouse white supremacy, as well as anti-government and anti-authority extremists such as militias.
The strategy targeting domestic terrorism unveiled on Tuesday is designed “to understand and share domestic terrorism related information; prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence; disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity; and confront long term contributors to domestic terrorism,” the White House said.
In a statement, Biden said: “[The strategy] lays out a comprehensive approach to protecting our nation from domestic terrorism while safeguarding our bedrock civil rights and civil liberties.”
Part of the strategy involves the government working more with tech companies in sharing relevant information, as much of the recruitment, radicalization and mobilization happens online, a government official said.
Work will also be done to find ways to “counter the polarization often fuelled by disinformation, misinformation, and dangerous conspiracy theories online,” the White House said.
Biden described right-wing extremist terrorism as the greatest terrorist threat to the US in a speech to Congress at the end of April.
Shortly before the change of power in Washington, supporters of former president Donald Trump violently stormed the seat of the US Congress, causing several deaths.
The FBI classified the attack as “domestic terrorism.”