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Biden launches Domestic Terrorism Strategy targeting anti-gov’t ideology, white supremacy and more

President Joe Biden addressed service members at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, May 28, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus M. Bullock)
June 15, 2021

The White House on Tuesday announced President Joe Biden’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, a first-of-its-kind, four-pillared approach to improve how domestic terrorism is defined, identified, and combated. The strategy’s main aim is to target those with racist or anti-government ideology, which the administration says is espoused by domestic terrorists.

The strategy says that experts and evidence have shown today’s domestic terrorists include those who espouse “racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred” as well as “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.” However, anti-law enforcement ideologies such as those espoused by Antifa and Black Lives Matter were not mentioned.

“Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the white race) and militia violent extremists are assessed as presenting the most persistent and lethal threats,” the strategy says.

A senior administration official told American Military News and other outlets on a Monday press call that the strategy aims to “create conditions of public safety and ensure people can express their political views as is appropriate in a democracy.”

The strategy’s four pillars consist of:

  1. Understand and share domestic terrorism-related information
  2. Prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence
  3. Disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity
  4. Confront long-term contributors to domestic terrorism

The strategy will entail further support to law enforcement via funding and training to help law enforcement partners identify domestic terror threats and counter “those who seek to use violence to achieve their political end,” the official said.

The administration official also added that the strategy will include enhanced partnerships with tech companies in the effort to identify and combat “domestic terrorism content” online.

The official said the administration is working with tech companies “as to facilitate their more assertive voluntary enforcement of their terms of service on their platforms to protect other users from those who might pose threats of violence.”

The strategy also aims to “foster programming that can build digital literacy and other forms of resilience to domestic terrorist recruitment online” as well as malicious content from extremists.

“Domestic terrorism – driven by hate, bigotry, and other forms of extremism— is a stain on the soul of America.  It goes against everything our country strives for and it poses a direct challenge to our national security, democracy, and unity,” Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.

The strategy also suggest policy changes will follow in the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice.

The strategy calls for the DOD to develop a plan to ensure that people recruited into the military and those separating or retiring from the military “are worthy of the role of a military member” and are not “preyed upon,” the official said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin called the strategy a milestone in our country’s efforts to address a serious and growing security threat,” and vowed the Department of Defense’s support, including its “robust relationship with federal law enforcement.”

Austin also said supporting the strategy includes DOD’s “refining our policies to better address this issue within the Department.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the DHS is “undertaking a number of actions as part of an all-of-government effort to fight domestic terrorism,” including open-source information to identify and counter threats, among others.

Violent extremism has been designated a “National Priority Area” in DHS’s Homeland Security Grants, allocating $77 million to prevent and respond to domestic violent extremism.