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Under Attack, DOJ Creates New Unit To Investigate Domestic Terrorism

The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit to help combat a threat that has intensified dramatically in recent years, reports the Washington Post. Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, announced the unit to the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting that the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists — those accused of planning or committing crimes toward domestic political goals — had more than doubled since the spring of 2020. Olsen said the Justice Department already had counterterrorism attorneys who worked both domestic and international cases, and that the new unit would “augment our existing approach” to prosecuting those cases. His testimony came soon after the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, which some lawmakers view as evidence that the FBI was not taking sufficiently seriously the threat posed by domestic extremists and violence-prone members of far-right groups. Olsen said the intelligence community had determined that “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.” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL.) opened the hearing with a video showing footage and news coverage from the riot, taking aim at Republicans for not being fully supportive of congressional efforts to investigate the attack. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) countered with a video showing footage of riots the previous summer at racial justice protests around the country. “These anti-police riots rocked our nation for seven full months, just like the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol rocked the nation,” Grassley said.

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