White supremacist violence responsible for spike in US domestic terror arrests, FBI says

'A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we've investigated are motivated by ... white supremacist violence' FBI Director Christopher Wray says

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 23 July 2019 22:26 BST
Donald Trump denies white nationalism is a 'rising threat' after Christchurch mosque attack

An increasing number of arrests related to domestic terrorism is being fuelled in part by white supremacy, FBI director Christopher Wray said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the director said his agency has already made nearly 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests this year, a figure already higher than that of the entirety of 2018.

“A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we've investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence," Mr Wray said during an exchange with Senator Dick Durbin.

“But it includes other things as well,” he added.

Reports have previously indicated a rise in white supremacist attacks globally in recent years. The Centre for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University concluded in March that “white nationalism has reflected a coarsening of mainstream politics, where debates on national security and immigration have become rabbit holes for the exploitation of fear and bigotry.”

“Our most recent police data, found a spike in many large US cities around election time 2018 as well,” Brian Levin, director of the centre, wrote in Time Magazine.

He added: “We also found Ideologically motivated murders by white supremacists increased in 2018 to 17, from 13 in 2017, while violent Salafist Jihadist killings dropped to only one.”

Other studies have shown right-wing extremists are typically the suspects in domestic terror related incidents across the US, including a June 2017 study conducted by Reveal and the Centre for Investigative Reporting that said they were involved in more domestic terrorism incidents than “Islamists” and “left wing” combined.

Mr Wray revealed the latest figures surrounding domestic terror related incidents at Tuesday’s hearing, a day before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was set to testify before two Congressional committees about Russian interference in the 2016 election and Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

The FBI director also said on Tuesday that Russia was continuing to carry out efforts to interfere in American elections, despite the agency providing “significant resources devoted” to the issue.

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“The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections through the foreign influence," he said.

Mr Trump has said he does not view white nationalism as a rising global threat and has frequently sought to downplay Russian interference in foreign elections.

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