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SPLC calls for congressional hearings on threat of domestic terrorism

Congress has held recent hearings on how overseas terrorists spread propaganda to radicalize and recruit but has not examined how domestic extremists are using the same tactics.

The SPLC today urged the homeland security committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct hearings on the threat of domestic terrorism in the wake of the Charleston church massacre.

“There’s a growing recognition that the resources the federal government devotes to combating terrorism may be too skewed toward jihadism, even as deadly attacks by non-Muslim extremists are becoming increasingly common,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “Congress should hold hearings to determine how the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are working to respond to this threat.”

In a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the committees, Cohen noted that both committees have held hearings during the 114th Congress about “how overseas terrorist organizations spread extremist propaganda to radicalize and recruit.” But neither has “examined how these channels are being exploited by groups intent on carrying out domestic terrorism.”

Dylann Roof, the alleged gunman in the June 17 attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, wrote in an online manifesto that he was inspired by the white supremacist propaganda he found on the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group with a long history of racist extremism. The Department of Justice has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the attack.

Cohen wrote that the congressional committees have a responsibility to “hear from the Federal government on what it is doing to identify, mitigate, and respond to such threats and the degree to which Federal efforts to counter violent extremism are focused on domestic terrorist threats.”

Last week, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security released a report finding that U.S. law enforcement agencies ranked the threat of violence from domestic antigovernment extremists higher than the threat radicalized Muslims. 

Read the letter to the House Committee below (or open in a new window):

Read the letter to the Senate Committee below (or open in a new window):