Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of House Committee on Homeland Security, has introduced new legislation on white-supremacist terrorism, according to legislative text reviewed by The Daily Beast.
The bill would require the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security to track domestic terrorism—including terror attacks committed by right-wing and white supremacist extremists—and release an annual, unclassified report on attacks.
A fact sheet from the committee, reviewed by The Daily Beast, says right-wing terrorism appears to present a more significant threat than foreign terrorism.
“The limited information available to the public shows that right-wing domestic terrorism is on the rise, and, in recent years, has presented a more dangerous threat to the homeland than international terrorism,” the fact sheet said.
"Domestic terrorism, fueled largely by a surge in white supremacist extremism, presents a growing threat to the security of our homeland,” said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson in a statement. “In 2018, the lives of 50 Americans were taken as a result of domestic extremist-related killings—all connected to right-wing extremism, and mostly tied to white supremacism. Yet, few Americans know much about what exactly the Federal government is doing to prevent domestic terrorism.”
The Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Arab American Institute have all endorsed the legislation, according to the committee. The bill currently has 18 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
It comes as domestic terror attacks—including on places of worship—have left dozens of Americans dead. In April, on the last day of Passover, a shooter attacked a synagogue in Poway, California, killing one woman and injuring three other people. And last October, a shooter killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, federal law enforcement has faced scrutiny over its prioritization of the growing domestic terror threat. In April, The Daily Beast reported that DHS disbanded a unit of intelligence analysts focused on domestic terrorism—a development that has concerned lawmakers.
In the past, efforts by DHS to take on domestic terrorism have generated controversy. In April 2009, DHS analyst Daryl Johnson wrote a report warning about an upsurge in threatening activity by far right groups. Congressional Republicans said the report was an attack on conservatives, and then-DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano apologized for the report and withdrew it, as McClatchy has detailed.