FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the FBI’s domestic terrorism tracking has “exploded” in the past year with most of the surge attributed to a rise in “white supremacy.”
Wray testified before the Senate Homeland Security committee on the terror landscape threatening the United States two decades after 9-11 on Tuesday. Wray said that the terror threats facing the country are on the rise domestically while holding level internationally, leading to an overall increase in the FBI’s counter-terrorism work. Much of that increase is driven by “white supremacy,” Wray claimed. As The Hill reports:
“Since the spring of 2020, so for the past 16, 18 months or so, we have more than doubled our domestic terrorism caseload from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations, and we have surged personnel to match, more than doubling the amount of people working that threat than the year before,” Wray testified during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on threats to the homeland.
“Certainly, the domestic terrorism caseload has exploded, and meanwhile the international terrorism caseload hasn’t subsided,” Wray said later during questioning from senators.
Wray noted that the “biggest chunk” of racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism the FBI tracks is now “favoring white supremacy.”
“We collect information about that threat. We have, as you say, prioritized that threat at a national threat priority level,” Wray said.
The FBI director said that the bureau has dedicated a substantial amount of resources to arresting and prosecuting those involved in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which the bureau views as an act of domestic terrorism. Wray said in his written statement to the committee:
FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff have been hard at work gathering evidence, sharing intelligence, and working with federal prosecutors to bring charges against the individuals involved. As we have said consistently, we do not and will not tolerate violent extremists who use the guise of First Amendment-protected activity to engage in violent criminal activity. Thus far, the FBI has arrested hundreds of individuals with regards to rioting, assault on a federal officer, property crimes violations, and conspiracy charges, and the work continues.
Overall, the FBI assesses that the January 6 siege of the Capitol Complex demonstrates a willingness by some to use violence against the government in furtherance of their political and social goals. This ideologically motivated violence—domestic terrorism—underscores the symbolic nature of the National Capital Region and the willingness of some domestic violent extremists to travel to events in this area and violently engage law enforcement and their perceived adversaries. The American people should rest assured that we will continue to work to hold accountable those individuals who participated in the violent breach of the Capitol on January 6 and any others who attempt to use violence to intimidate, coerce, or influence the American people or affect the conduct of our government.
As the FBI’s investigation into the January 6 riot continues, the bureau has reportedly found little evidence that the riot was a result of some kind of “organized plot” to overturn the November election. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have so far arrested hundreds of people in connection with the riot, though they have yet to turn up significant evidence that the riot was coordinated. The FBI has found evidence that several groups intended to break into the Capitol building that day, but the groups did not make any kind of plan of what to accomplish once inside.