“Regardless of the specific ideology involved, the FBI requires that all domestic terrorism investigations be predicated based on activity intended to further a political or social goal, wholly or in part involving force, coercion, or violence, in violation of federal law.”
American FBI Director Christopher Wray has announced that the threat of far-right, or neo-nazi terrorism and extremism, has risen to a “national threat priority” for the year 2020, posing “a steady threat of violence and economic harm”. This threat-level for neo-Nazi extremists is now at the same level as terror groups like ISIS.
Speaking to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Director Wray emphasized the worrying rise in far-right extremism during 2019. In just last year alone the FBI made a reported 107 domestic terrorism arrests, with racism and hate-ideologies being the main reasons behind motivating the killings and violence seen in the last two years. 2018 and 2019 were the most deadly in terms of domestic extremism movements. Wray stated:
The spate of attacks we saw in 2019 underscore the continued threat posed by domestic violent extremists and perpetrators of hate crimes. Such crimes are not limited to the United States and, with the aid of Internet like-minded hate groups, can reach across borders…[The driving forces include] perceptions of government or law enforcement overreach, socio-political conditions, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and reactions to legislative actions.”
The FBI, in response to the rise in far-right extremism, launched the Domestic Terrorism-Hate Crimes Fusion Cell last year in 2019. This has allowed the FBI to allocate as many resources as needed to combat and prevent domestic terrorism at the same level of effort previously used in fighting other foreign terror-linked groups (like ISIS).
By finally recognizing the threat of white supremacy at the same level as foreign terror groups like Al Qaeda or ISIS, the FBI has moved forward into not treating all far-right acts of terror as “lone-wolf” attacks, as often labelled. Along these same lines, the Department of Homeland Security has also recently recognized white nationalism as a significant domestic threat.
Despite this, however, the FBI has still continued to relate far-right terrorism with individualized attacks, stating that the organization is “most concerned about lone offender attacks, [which has] served as the dominant lethal mode” for domestic terror attacks. Wray continued:
Regardless of the specific ideology involved, the FBI requires that all domestic terrorism investigations be predicated based on activity intended to further a political or social goal, wholly or in part involving force, coercion, or violence, in violation of federal law.”
Although the FBI has raised the threat-level of neo-Nazis and white-supremacist hate-violence, the United States remains conflicted, especially with the 2020 presidential primary elections coming up later this year. Trump continues to accept blatant racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism within his government and in open society, and despite the FBI raising the threat-level of white supremacy, it remains to be seen whether those fuelling hate-speech and racially-motivated attacks will be tried and arrested.
Americans, especially those from the minority groups relentlessly attacked by Trump and his supporters, must come together to combat neo-Nazi ideology and white-supremacy from the bottom-up in society. Electing those into office who will truly support those most side-lined in society, and ensuring that there is a massive voter turn-out during elections must be a priority for Americans in 2020 – it can almost be assured that if Trump and his supporters or like-minded politicians are elected into office, the threat of neo-Nazi attacks will not quiet down.