White supremacy a major domestic terror threat, DHS says

This decision is a first for the department, which was created in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and has primarily focused thus far on foreign security threats.

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September 26, 2019 03:20
1 minute read.
Members of White Supremacy groups gather in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Members of White Supremacy groups gather in West Allis, Wisconsin.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The US Department of Homeland Security has officially labeled white supremacy as a major threat to national security, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on Friday.

This announcement came during the department's unveiling of its new 34-page counterterrorism strategy, which places additional emphasis on domestic terrorism threats.

The decision is a first for the department, which was created in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and has primarily focused thus far on external security threats, specifically foreign terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“The United States faces an evolving threat environment and a threat of terrorism and targeted violence within our borders that is more diverse than at any time since the 9/11 attacks,” McAleenan said on Friday. “We are acutely aware of the growing threat from enemies, both foreign and domestic, who seek to incite violence in our nation’s youth, disenfranchised, and disaffected, in order to attack their fellow citizens.”

According to McAleenan, however, the department created a subcommittee to safeguard faith-based organizations from domestic terrorist attacks following the shooting at the Chabad of Poway, California, which would create a “strategic framework that would build on our success against foreign organizations and incorporate lessons learned.”

This was reinforced following a white nationalist-motivated shooting in El Paso, Texas, in August.

The recognition of white supremacy as a major domestic terrorist threat may come as a relief to many experts in the fields of national security and extremism, who for years have been warning the US about the urgency of dealing with the ever-growing threat of white supremacist actions. Indeed, at a House committee hearing last week, experts said the US was currently unprepared to deal with this threat.


However, if the new report is anything to go by, the department seems to be listening, and many of the priorities described in their report are in line with what these experts have been telling Congress, such as eschewing national-level statistics on terrorism and extremism in favor of local- and state-level statistics instead.


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