On May 23, a senior FBI counterterrorism official told CNN the agency has seen a significant rise in the number of white supremacist domestic terrorism cases in the recent months.
The unnamed official explained how the FBI has tackled the rise of domestic threats while also investigating international terror threats, which have remained constant despite the fall of ISIS in Syria.
Although the FBI wouldn’t provide specific numbers to illustrate the increase of domestic terror, the official said the cases generally include violent suspects with “anti-government views, racial or religious bias, environmental extremism, and abortion-related views.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least 40 people in the U.S. and Canada were killed in 2018 by people with far-right ideologies.
When it comes to handling cases of domestic terrorism, the FBI faces more challenges because of First Amendment protections. At the moment, the U.S. doesn't have a domestic terrorism law, and domestic hate groups, such as the KKK or other white supremacist groups, are not classified as terrorist organizations by the government.
In April 2019, a federal judge in Maryland agreed to release Christopher Hasson, the Coast Guard lieutenant who was accused of plotting a domestic terror attack on prominent political figures.
At the time, prosecutors argued Hasson is a white supremacist who accrued an arsenal of guns and had a hit list of prominent Democratic politicians and journalists with CNN and MSNBC. Investigators determined that Hasson had once searched "are Supreme Court justices protected" online before searching for the home addresses of two unnamed justices, court documents revealed.
Additionally, Hasson searched online for the "best" gun to kill Black people.
Like many other suspects in cases of domestic terrorism, Hasson only faced weapons and drug charges, but did not face any charges related to terrorism or attempted murder because there is not a federal statute.
News of Hasson’s release was met with extreme anger from people who argued that he would have faced tougher charges if he were Black or Muslim
In 2017, there were about 150 arrests related to incidents of domestic terror, while 2018 had about 120, reported CNN.
According to the FBI official, the number of cases for 2019 is expected to match or exceed the numbers from previous years.
Currently, the FBI has about 5,000 open terrorism-related investigations. Of those cases, 850 are related to domestic terrorism, the official told CNN.
In response to the report, several Democrats have spoken out about the need to combat hate