DHS counterterrorism strategy to address white supremacist threat

DHS counterterrorism strategy to address white supremacist threat
© Aaron Schwartz

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new counterterrorism strategy Friday that focuses on extremist violence and the threat from white supremacists.

"The new strategic framework will make it clear that the Department is committed to addressing the threat posed by terrorism and targeted violence at home, just as it is committed to continuing to aggressively pursue the foreign terrorist organizations it has denied entry to the United States for nearly seventeen years," DHS said in a statement.

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The agency said its goal is to better understand evolving terrorism and targeted violence threats, block terrorists from entering the U.S., prevent terrorism and targeted violence and enhance infrastructure protections and community preparedness.

In announcing the strategy at a joint Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation event, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan discussed the growing threat of extremist and white supremacist violence.

"There is evidence of this growing number of threat actors who seek to attack the seams of our diverse and violent social fabric and incite our nation's most vulnerable populations...to violence against their fellow citizens," he said. "These individuals are motivated by various violent extremist ideologies....including very concerning and increasingly, white supremacist violent extremism."

"White supremacist extremism is one of the most potent ideologies driving acts of targeted violence in this country,” he added.

McAleenan said in an interview with The Atlantic, which first reported the outline of the strategy, that he is not worried about any political ramifications of the new strategy.

“We’re worried about threats to the American people,” he said.

The strategy follows a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, last month that authorities said was hate-motivated.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, right-wing extremists were connected to at least 50 extremist-related murders in 2018 in the U.S.

Updated at 3:36 p.m.