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FBI and DHS Warned of Growing Threat From White Supremacists Months Ago

FBI and DHS Warned of Growing Threat From White Supremacists Months Ago

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in May warned that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by Foreign Policy.

Even as President Donald Trump continues to resist calling out white supremacists for violence, federal law enforcement has made clear that it sees these types of domestic extremists as a severe threat. The report, dated May 10, says the FBI and DHS believe that members of the white supremacist movement “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”

The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which attracted hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other members of the so-called alt-right, sparked violent clashes over the weekend. A woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by a car that drove into a crowd of people protesting the rally.

James Alex Fields Jr., the driver of the vehicle that struck Heyer, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Since the outbreak of violence over the weekend, President Trump has been heavily criticized for not condemning racist groups. “We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST,” he tweeted.

The FBI, on the other hand, has already concluded that white supremacists, including neo-Nazi supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan, are in fact responsible for the lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” reads the joint intelligence bulletin.

The report, titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” was prepared by the FBI and DHS.

The bulletin’s numbers appear to correspond with outside estimates. An independent database compiled by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute found that between 2008 and 2016, far-right plots and attacks outnumbered Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.

The cases cited in the intelligence report include an 18-year-old Chinese student in Nashville, Indiana, who was attacked by a white supremacist with a hatchet; the murder of an African-American man in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and the stabbing of Klansman in East Yanceyville, North Carolina, by other KKK members, who believed the victim was Jewish and secretly working for law enforcement.

An FBI spokesperson said it was bureau policy not to comment on specific intelligence products but added that as “part of the continuous dialogue with our law enforcement partners, the FBI routinely shares information about potential threats to better enable law enforcement to protect the communities they serve.”

DHS did not respond to a request for comment on the document, but provided a general statement on recent events. “DHS personnel have been in contact with Virginia state and local law enforcement to offer any assistance necessary to deal with [Saturday’s] horrible violent incident in Charlottesville,” wrote a DHS spokesperson.

Photo credit: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images