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Biden administration pushes plan to fight domestic terrorism

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration has said it will improve its analysis of threats from domestic terrorists, including intelligence sharing within law enforcement agencies, and work with tech companies to eliminate the terrorist content online as part of a national strategy against domestic terrorism. terrorism.

The National Security Council on Tuesday released the strategic plan, which comes more than six months after a host of insurgents loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress voted to certify the presidential victory of Joe Biden.

“Domestic terrorism – motivated by hatred, bigotry and other forms of extremism – is a stain on America’s soul,” Biden, who travels to Europe, said in a statement. “It goes against everything our country aspires to and it poses a direct challenge to our national security, our democracy and our unity.”

A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that domestic violent extremists pose an increased threat in 2021, with white supremacist groups and anti-government militias posing the highest risk, officials said.

The new strategy includes improving the government’s analysis of domestic terrorism and improving the information that is shared between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Administration officials said the Justice Department has also put in place a new system to “methodically track” domestic terrorism cases nationwide within the FBI.

The Justice Department was also assessing whether the administration should recommend to Congress to pass a specific national law on terrorism, which does not currently exist. In the absence of national terrorism laws, the justice ministry relies on other laws to prosecute ideologically motivated violence committed by people without international ties.

But it has made it more difficult to track how often extremists motivated by religious, racial or anti-government biases commit violence in the United States and complicates efforts to develop a universally accepted definition of domestic terrorism. Opponents of national anti-terrorism laws say prosecutors already have enough tools.

The government’s new plan also includes an effort to identify government employees who may pose a national terrorist threat, with a number of federal agencies working on new policies and programs to root out potential domestic extremists in the forces of the order and in the army.

A senior administration official said the Office of Personnel Management is considering updating the forms to help improve the screening and screening of government employees to ensure that people who may pose a threat are identified before being placed in sensitive roles. The official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to detail internal tools.

Officials said the Justice Department also officially made domestic terrorism a top priority and reallocated resources to U.S. attorneys’ offices and FBI field offices across the United States to address the threat from domestic extremists. . The Justice Department’s proposed budget for next year includes $ 100 million in additional domestic terrorism-related resources that will be used for analysts, investigators and prosecutors.

The United States and four other countries have joined an effort to stop extremist violence from spreading online. The effort, known as the Christchurch Appeal, involves around 50 countries as well as tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, and is named after the New Zealand city where the massacre of the two mosques took place.

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