Leading the Fight Against Domestic Terrorism
By: Shahzeb Malik, MPAC Policy Intern
For most of us, the immediate reaction of the tragedy in Rochester was shock, horror and dismay as to why this keeps happening.
In what has become a disheartening reality, such an act of terror, whether at a house of worship, a school or a grocery store will likely happen again. Perhaps just as disheartening, is that in the aftermath, as the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, it will become a distant memory.
At the Muslim Public Affairs Council, fighting back against domestic terrorism and white supremacy is at the core of our policy work and we are a trusted resource on Capitol Hill and the Biden Administration, along with other institutions in civil society.
Our previous work includes a white paper, The White Supremacist Threat to America, hailed by Rep. Adam Schiff, as a must-read by every legislator, and a report, The Double Standards of U.S. FTO vs. DTO Prosecution, which has set the foundation for the current policy landscape. Our policy initiatives have enabled us to speak with authority as regulatory and statutory reforms are being considered and implemented.
One of those statutory reforms was up for consideration earlier this week on the floor of the House of Representatives: The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 —
- Establishes new requirements to expand the availability of information on domestic terrorism, as well as the relationship between domestic terrorism and hate crimes.
- It authorizes domestic terrorism components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism.
- The domestic terrorism components of DHS, DOJ, and the FBI must jointly report on domestic terrorism, including white-supremacist-related incidents or attempted incidents.
- DHS, DOJ, and the FBI must review the anti-terrorism training and resource programs of their agencies that are provided to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Additionally, DOJ must make training on prosecuting domestic terrorism available to its prosecutors and to assistant U.S. attorneys.
- It creates an interagency task force to analyze and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Finally, it directs the FBI to assign a special agent or hate crimes liaison to each field office to investigate hate crimes incidents with a nexus to domestic terrorism.
While it will not fully address the scourge that is domestic terrorism and white supremacy, it is a good start and we were heartened when it passed in the House of Representatives. We applaud the commitment to countering this issue within the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the FBI specifically to address domestic terror threats.
As American Muslims, we know first-hand the horrors of being targeted by white supremacists. We stand in lockstep with other communities who have felt the pain of such acts of hate and will help them heal through advocacy in Washington, ensuring this disturbing trend comes to an end.
While in an ideal world such attacks would never occur, it would be idealistic to think we can achieve that outcome. However, as a society, we should not ever have in the back of our minds that an event eliciting shock, horror and dismay as to why this keeps happening, should be normalized, and moved on from in the next news cycle.