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Homeland Security hearing: Extremism, domestic terror could persist for decade

Lawmakers and security officials from across the country noted how grave of a threat that "the enemy within" became in January.

WASHINGTON — If America needed a wakeup call on the dangers posed by home-grown domestic terrorists, it most certainly got one on January 6th.

"Just like 9/11, we will never forget, we will never forget the assault on our democracy on January 6th," said Rep. John Katko (R-New York).

Experts told the House Homeland Security Committee Thursday that the deadly insurrection revealed how grave the danger the enemy within poses, adding that radical violent extremism has "rapidly become part of the cultural mainstream."

"This unprecedented assault on America's political system will have longterm consequences, including the likelihood of further violence throughout the country," said Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corporation.

Christopher Rodriguez, District of Columbia Homeland Security Director, said, "This attack exposed in the starkest terms the threat we face from domestic terrorists and from right wing extremism, specifically."

Also weighing in was Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League, who said: "White supremacists are responsible for more murder than any other type of domestic extremists, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all such crimes in the past decade."

Elizabeth Neumann served as the Trump Administration's Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy.

"The challenge ahead will be re-discovering we are Americans before we are party affiliation or a political philosophy," Neumann said.

Thursday's virtual hearing came one day after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the armed forces to conduct a 60-day stand-down on the issue of extremism in the military, prompted reports that up to 20% of Capitol rioters arrested were active-duty military members or veterans.

RELATED: Def. Sec. Austin orders military leaders to address extremism in ranks

Newly named vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia, 2nd District) said it was a wise move by Austin.

"Hateful activities such as extremism have no place in the military, and, the stand-down is designed to get that message across to our military members," she said.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) agreed.

"I think Secretary Austin has done the right thing," he said. "I think we, over the last few years, have seen the growth of anti-government extremism across this country. The vast majority, based on the evidence, has been on the right wing."