FBI chief: US domestic terrorism cases increased to 2,000 in recent months
Washington, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- Cases of domestic terrorism that the FBI is investigating in the US have totaled 2,000 in recent months, the agency’s director, Christopher Wray, confirmed on Tuesday in testimony before a Senate committee.
Wray said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that since he became FBI chief in 2017 the Bureau had increased the number of domestic terrorism cases it was pursuing from about 1,000 to more or less 1,400 by the end of 2020 and to 2,000 at present.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“That attack, that siege, was criminal behavior, plain and simple, and it was behavior that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism,” Wray said, adding that the FBI has been working “day and night across the country to track down those responsible” for the violent insurrection.
Wray, who was tapped for the post by Trump, provided details about the evidence that the FBI is developing regarding the deadly events at the Capitol, during which five people died.
On Jan. 6, hundreds of Trump’s followers violently invaded the seat of Congress when lawmakers from both chambers were meeting to certify the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
He said that the Jan. 6 attack was not an isolated event, adding that the problem is that domestic terrorism has been spreading throughout the country for some time and will not disappear any time soon.
Wray confirmed that so far 270 people have been arrested as part of the overall investigation into the Capitol attack, although he raised that figure to 300 if one includes arrests of accomplices of the insurrectionists.
The FBI chief ruled out the participation of infiltrators from leftist or anarchist organizations in the deeds of violence, although Trump and his various supporters have claimed – without any evidence – that this was the case.
He said that to date FBI investigators had not found any proof of anarchist violence or of anyone belonging to Antifa being connected to the Jan. 6 attack.
“While we’re equal opportunity in looking for violent extremism of any ideology, we have not, to date, seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to Antifa in connection with the 6th,” Wray said.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not looking, and will continue to look. But at the moment, we have not seen that,” he added.
Because of the Capitol attack, House Democrats mounted a second impeachment of Trump, although the Senate on Feb. 13 once again failed to convict him even though his defense team claimed without providing any proof that Antifa was behind the mayhem and deadly violence.
On the other hand, Wray spoke about extremism motivated by racism, saying that the number of investigations and arrests in that area have increased significantly during his term as FBI director.
He said that the number of arrests of racially-motivated violent extremists, or white supremacists, last year almost tripled over the figure that prevailed during his first year as FBI chief.