In 2018, there were 50 domestic extremist murders, all of which were committed by perpetrators with ties to right-wing extremists, according to figures provided by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Raskin’s committee held a June 4 hearing — “Confronting Violent White Supremacy: Adequacy of the Federal Response” — the second such hearing with the most recent noting that 78 percent of domestic extremist murders were committed by white supremacists.
Right-wing extremist is also responsible for 73 percent of extremist killings over the last decade, compared to 23 percent for Islamist extremism and 3 percent for left-wing extremism, according to the committee’s findings which cite figures gathered by the Anti-Defamation League.
Further, the FBI found a 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes in 2017 from the previous year and a 31 percent increase since 2014.
Under the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security appears to have significantly reduced resources and infrastructure that would address the increasing threat of white supremacist extremism, Raskin said.
He noted reports that said DHS has disbanded a group of analysts focused on domestic terrorism in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, reducing the number of analytic reports on white supremacists.
The hearing became emotional when Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) broke down as she read the death threats she’s received since taking office in January.
“How is that not enough to fall under domestic terrorism if they’re targeting solely based on my faith, and others saying that a good Muslim is a dead one?” said Talib, who along with other Democrats are demanding federal agencies to increase their efforts to stop domestic terrorism and white supremacy.
Democrats also have called for mandates that require all state and local law enforcement to report hate crimes to the FBI. Committee members noted that only a small amount of municipalities report hate crimes.
“The United States Congress doesn’t have a statute for us to use domestic terrorism like we do on foreign terrorists organizations,” FBI Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division Michael McGarrity said in response to questions from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
McGarrity countered that the FBI agents have enjoyed success in dismantling some planned domestic terrorist attacks this year. He said arrests made prior to attacks have outnumbered those arrested prior to attacks in international terrorist cases.
“In fiscal year 2018, the FBI across the country proactively arrested approximately 115 subjects of FBI domestic terrorism investigations before they could mobilize into violence,” McGarrity said. “So far our Joint Terrorist Task Forces have disrupted approximately 66 subjects of FBI domestic terrorism investigations by arrest.”
Still, DHS Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neumann gave a startling admission that the U.S. government isn’t doing all it can to prevent acts of domestic terrorism.
She said the Trump administration is working to find ways to improve strategy.
“We know we’re not doing enough,” Neumann said. “Things haven’t been institutionalized. In order for government to work, we have to institutionalize it, you either need to authorize it through Congress or you need to get it in executive order or national security presidential memoranda.”