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Domestic violent extremism remains No. 1 threat in US, national security experts say

The number of the FBI's domestic terrorism investigations nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021.

WASHINGTON — A vast range of global and national security issues endanger the United States, including cyber threats, election security and international terrorism. 

But the foremost threat is homegrown, the federal government's top experts told the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), asked Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas if domestic violent extremism continues to pose "the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat" to the country.

Mayorkas replied that the Department of Homeland Security continues to assess the threat that way.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray said the problem is only getting worse, outlining trends in domestic violent extremism he has seen over the last few years.

"Certainly, we have seen over the last several years, going back to the summer of 2019, an increase in domestic violent extremism," Wray said. "And we are concerned about the lethality, especially of racially-motivated violent extremism and the spike starting in 2020 of anti-government violent extremism."

An FBI strategic intelligence assessment published in October backs up the claims, which found the number of FBI domestic terrorism investigations nearly doubled from 1,400 cases in 2020 to 2,700 cases in 2021.

Anti-government or anti-authority violent extremism cases topped the list at 38%, as of the end of Fiscal Year 2021. Anti-riot laws/civil unrest cases were next at 31%, followed by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism cases at 19%.

Wray also spoke about the recent string of bomb threats against about one-third of the country's Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

He said the FBI takes the threats "seriously" and he called the acts "outrageous" and "unacceptable."

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