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Rise in domestic terrorism investigations in the US

Rise in domestic terrorism investigations in the US
FBI director says ‘explosion’ in cases comes after years of rising caseloads

The number of domestic terrorism investigations in the United States has doubled in more than a year, the director of the FBI has admitted, in what is another warning sign of the threat from homegrown extremism.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, FBI director Chris Wray said the number of domestic terrorist incidents under investigation by the FBI had more than doubled since spring 2020, with the period including the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.

“The domestic terrorism caseload has exploded,” Mr Wray told the US Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, whose members include Utah Republican senator Mitt Romney.

The FBI director, who partially blamed the Capitol riot in January for the growing caseload, said the figure had gone “from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations” in the space of a year.

The number of people working on domestic terrorism for the FBI has also more than doubled since spring 2020, with the FBI hiring 260 per cent more staff, Mr Wray said.

Responding to a question from Mr Romney, he also told the committee that cases of domestic terrorism were growing in the years before – and prior to 6 January, as reported by HuffPost.

So far, more than 600 of those who rioted that day have been arrested and charged, and most are awaiting trial on a number of connected charges.

Concerns about domestic terrorism in the US have have been heightened in the aftermath of the 6 January attack on the Capitol, in which five people were killed.

Mr Wray, who was appointed in 2017, downplayed false claims made by former US president Donald Trump about a stolen election, which led to the riot, and described it as a “domestic terrorism” issue.

As did Merrick Garland, the US attorney general, when he said recently that the attack carried out by Trump supporters bolstered white supremacists and militia groups, who were again on the streets of Washington DC on Saturday for a so-called “Justice for J6” rally.

The Biden’s administration released a 30-page plan to counter domestic terrorism in June which called for greater information sharing between federal and local officials and social media firms.

It also called for additional resources to identify and prosecute threats and new deterrents to prevent Americans from joining dangerous groups.

Additional reporting by Reuters.