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Justice Department announces new strategies to combat rise in domestic terrorism

Merrick Garland
Posted at 11:59 AM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 11:59:06-04

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday outlined the Justice Department's strategy for combating the rise in domestic terrorism — the first such national strategy the Justice Department has ever implemented.

In prepared remarks, Garland said that open cases of domestic terrorism in the Justice Department have "increased significantly" in the past year, adding that the biggest threat comes from "racially or ethnically" motivated attacks, particularly those carried out by white supremacists.

"We cannot promise that we will be able to disrupt every plot," Garland said. "But we can promise that we can do everything in our power to prevent such tragedies."

In consulting with a "wide array of experts," the Biden administration has developed four "pillars" upon which it will attempt to thwart acts of violence that attempt to intimidate or coerce government action.

Understanding and sharing domestic terror-related information

The administration says it will improve intradepartmental information-sharing regarding both domestic and international terror threats. The White House says the DOJ and the FBI have "implemented a robust system to methodically track domestic terrorism cases nationwide," and that the State Department will help the government track threats abroad.

Preventing recruitment and mobilization to violence

The Department of Justice says the Biden administration has "revamped support to community partners who can help to prevent individuals from ever reaching the point of committing terrorist violence."

The administration has allocated $77 million toward state, local and tribal efforts to fight extremism, and Homeland Security and the FBI are helping assist local efforts.

The White House also says it will combat online recruitment by finding "innovative ways to foster digital literacy and build resilience to recruitment and mobilization."

Disrupting and deterring violence

The Biden administration says it will increase resources to Federal, state and local law enforcement when fighting domestic terrorism. That includes $100 million in additional funding to DOJ, FBI and Homeland Security that Biden has already proposed in his 2022 budget.

The White House added that it is improving screening methods that identify potential domestic terrorists who may pose insider threats.

Confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism

The White Houses says finding ways of "reducing and protecting Americans from racial, ethnic, and religious hatred" will be key to the long-term fight against domestic terror. In a press release, the White House added that it intends to slow the flow of "firearms to individuals intending to commit acts of domestic terrorism."

However, in his remarks Tuesday, Garland clarified that the Justice Department is only seeking violent actors and is not seeking to prosecute anyone for their personal beliefs.

"In the United States, espousing a hateful ideology is not illegal," Garland said. "We do not prosecute people for their beliefs...there is no place for partisanship in enforcing the law."

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