Holder: Charleston a ‘wake-up call’ on domestic terror

 Holder: Charleston a ‘wake-up call’ on domestic terror
© Lauren Schneiderman

The shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., was a “wake-up call” for many Americans about the terrorism that is possible within the United States, former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats Oregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps MORE told The Hill.

He said that threats from domestic hate groups have long been on the radar for law enforcement, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, but the nation as a whole hadn’t really acknowledged the threat posed by them.

“I don’t think we have focused on the terrorism in our midst to the degree we need, and I think that what we saw in Charleston was a wake-up call,” he said.

Last month, Dylann Storm Roof allegedly opened fire inside a historic black church, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, during Bible study. Holder said the shooting, which left nine people dead, was a terrorist act.

While there has been more attention paid to terrorism in the Middle East, Holder said, there has been less awareness about the terrorism stemming from “some of the issues that have bedeviled the nation for far too long — racial issues, religious issues.”

“These are things that we have to be concerned about,” he added.

Holder spoke with The Hill on a range of topics, including his aspirations to affect policy from his post at K Street firm Covington & Burling and his plans to form an organization he is creating to address civil rights and criminal justice reforms.

He served as the first African-American attorney general and stepped down earlier this year. In many ways, he was the Obama Administration’s point-person on racial issues, visiting Ferguson, Mo., after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer caused unrest in the city.

The church shooting, Holder also said, would not be a blip in the news cycle.

“What happened in Charleston has really touched the nerve of this nation in a way that few other incidents have,” he said. “Things large and small — everything from the questioning about the Confederate flag, the focus on these domestic hate groups — all of this stuff is going to be something that is going to have an impact long term on the nation.”

President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden ahead of pace Trump set for days away from White House: CNN The Senate is setting a dangerous precedent with Iron Dome funding Obama says change may be coming 'too rapidly' for many MORE, a personal friend of Holder’s, delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of those killed in the church shooting.

The president spoke about racial inequalities, gun violence and broke into song – singing a rendition of “Amazing Grace” to which 6,000 mourners sang along.

“He’s a person who I think is truly gifted when it comes to his oratorical skills, and I think that it was Barack Obama at his best,” Holder said.