The United States Department of Justice is creating a new unit focused solely on investigating violent domestic extremists. The unit will be part of the National Security Division, which is overseen by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.
Testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Olsen told lawmakers that the new unit will “augment our existing approach” to fighting domestic terrorism.
“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” Olsen said.
He noted that the number of FBI investigations into violent domestic extremists has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.
“We face an elevated threat from domestic violent extremists – that is, individuals in the United States who seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals,” Olsen told lawmakers. “We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies.”
Jill Sanborn, executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch, also testified in front of the committee and said the biggest threats are from lone-wolf attackers or small groups who become radicalized online.
“Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists advocating for the superiority of the white race and anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists … present the most lethal threat,” she testified.