Is the Biden Administration Addressing the Rise of Domestic Terrorism?
by Adil Zuberi
White supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. The rise of extremist groups and acts of violence committed by individuals with extremist ideologies have put a spotlight on the issue of domestic terrorism. The assault on the U.S. Capitol highlighted the threat posed by domestic terrorism and underscored the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to address this issue and the Biden administration has taken steps to address this growing threat.
The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) recent threat assessment report highlights the increasing danger posed by domestic terrorism, particularly from individuals who hold extremist ideologies such as white supremacy, anti-government sentiment, and racial or ethnic hatred. According to the report, domestic violent extremists (DVEs) have been responsible for a number of deadly attacks in recent years, including the 2017 Charlottesville rally, the 2018 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. One of the key challenges in addressing domestic terrorism is the fact that many of these individuals and groups operate online, making it difficult for law enforcement to track their activities. Additionally, many domestic terrorists are not affiliated with any specific group, making it challenging to identify and track potential threats.
The Biden administration has made it a top priority to address domestic terrorism and has taken several steps to combat this growing threat. The administration has recognized the importance of addressing the root causes of domestic terrorism, including issues such as economic inequality, racial injustice, and political polarization. It has announced plans to invest in programs that address these underlying issues, such as job training and education programs, and efforts to strengthen community engagement and build trust between law enforcement and local communities.
One example of this is the Biden administration's proposal to invest $100 million in the Community Gun Violence Prevention program, which seeks to reduce gun violence and gang activity in communities by providing job training and other resources to at-risk youth. This program, which is part of the administration's broader efforts to address the root causes of domestic terrorism, has received support from a number of lawmakers and community organizations. The administration has also prioritized enhancing coordination between law enforcement agencies to better identify and prevent domestic terrorism. This includes establishing a new domestic terrorism unit within the Department of Justice, which will focus on investigating and prosecuting domestic terrorism
cases. The administration has also called for increased cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to share intelligence and work together to prevent domestic terrorism.
Another key element of the administration's strategy is to strengthen legal frameworks to address domestic terrorism. This includes working with Congress to pass new laws that provide law enforcement with the tools they need to investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism cases. The administration has also directed the Department of Justice to review and update its domestic terrorism-related policies and procedures, including those related to information sharing and investigative authorities. For example, the Biden administration has called for the creation of a federal domestic terrorism statute that would allow federal law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals who commit acts of domestic terrorism. Currently, there is no specific federal law that criminalizes domestic terrorism, making it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute individuals who engage in these activities.
The Department of Homeland Security has named domestic terrorism as the largest threat to national security, highlighting the severity of the problem. The Biden administration has taken significant steps to address this issue, including implementing new measures to combat domestic terrorism and investing in gun violence prevention efforts. While there is still much work to be done, by addressing the underlying issues driving domestic terrorism and taking concrete steps to prevent and respond to these threats, the Biden administration is working to protect the safety and security of all Americans. This is an important step forward in addressing this critical issue and ensuring that the United States remains safe and secure.
Department of Homeland Security. (2020). Homeland Threat Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/publication/2020-homeland-threat-assessment
NPR. (2021, March 25). Biden administration announces new measures to counter domestic terrorism. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2021/03/25/981076245/biden-administration-announces-new-measures-to-counter-domestic-terrorism
The White House. (2021, June 15). Fact Sheet: The Biden-Harris Administration's Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/15/fact-sheet-the-biden-h arris-administrations-comprehensive-strategy-to-prevent-and-respond-to-gun-crime-and-ensure-public-safety/
United States Department of Justice. (2021, June 15). Department of Justice Announces Steps to Address Domestic Terrorism. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-announces-steps-address-domestic-terrorism