Two years ago this month, the Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Since the strategy’s launch in June 2021, we have sharpened our understanding of the domestic terrorism threat, increased information sharing with state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement and foreign partners, doubled our investigations into domestic extremism and terrorism, prioritized funding for research into the factors that influence domestic terrorism and extremism, strengthened local efforts to prevent acts of domestic terrorism, and expanded our capabilities to disrupt and prosecute such acts, all while safeguarding privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.
Domestic terrorism strikes at the very foundations of democracy and is a direct threat to the civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed to all Americans. Those who engage in domestic terrorism and hate-fueled violence attempt to intimidate Americans and deny them their most basic rights, including their lives and liberty. The Biden-Harris Administration is determined to ensure that domestic terrorist activity or hate-filled violence does not interfere with Americans’ ability to speak freely, to practice their faiths as they wish, to live safely, or to exercise their other constitutional rights, including to assemble and protest peacefully.
Developing a Shared Understanding of Domestic Terrorism
The U.S. government is increasing its understanding of the nature of the threats posed by domestic terrorism and sharing this information with a wide range of stakeholders inside and outside of government by:
- Improving information-sharing on domestic terrorism threats across the federal government and with our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) updated the US Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators booklet, which details observable behaviors that could signal whether individuals – including domestic violent extremists – are pursuing ideologically-motivated violent extremist activities. More than 40,000 copies of this booklet have been disseminated to partner organizations, including state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners to date, and it is also available online. The FBI also published a Spanish language version of the booklet and a summary for the tech sector. In addition, the FBI has distributed threat information reference guides to all law enforcement partners that explain the variety of threats that comprise the domestic terrorism landscape in the United States.
- Increasing the rigor and value of intelligence production on domestic terrorism issues. The FBI and DHS have vastly increased production of analysis on domestic terrorism threats, highlighting the diversity of those threats in the United States.
- Expanding our cooperation with international partners to better target global extremism. Many of these threats may start at home, but we know that what may inspire bad actors does not stop at our borders. The Departments of State (State) and Justice (DOJ) launched the Counterterrorism Law Enforcement Forum in 2022, which for the first time gathered international law enforcement, prosecutors and other criminal justice personnel to focus on transnational racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism. The Administration, in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, released a guide for criminal justice practitioners to identify, investigate, disrupt and prosecute domestic violent extremists. We also work bilaterally and multilaterally with many countries experiencing similar trends; for example, DHS also continues to coordinate with countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand through the Five Country Ministerial and its working groups.
- Engaging the private sector to enlist their help in our response to the threat posed by domestic terrorists. Departments and Agencies have developed new information sharing and technical assistance mechanisms that respond to requests from technology, financial, and other private sector actors to better understand the threat posed by domestic terrorists and stop such terrorists from accessing goods and services in furtherance of their violent acts. The Treasury Department included a domestic terrorism section in the 2022 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment to provide the financial sector better information on the domestic terrorism threat. In April 2023, Treasury launched a domestic terrorism resource website for private and public sector entities seeking a better understanding of domestic violent extremists, their foreign peers, and associated financial activity. Financial institutions are using these resources to inform their own anti-money laundering programs. In addition, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has developed two new trainings within the past year, available to the private sector on the I&A National Threat Evaluation and Reporting Office public-facing website that assists partners with identifying and reporting suspicious activity related to terrorism and targeted violence.
Preventing Domestic Terrorism Recruitment and Mobilization
The Administration is adopting an evidence-based, stakeholder-informed, public health-focused violence prevention approach. The strategy draws on the expertise, experience and efforts of the entire government to establish and enhance community-level and individual-level violence prevention and resilience by:
- Increasing financial, technical and educational resources for the whole of society. In March, the Administration launched the Prevention Resource Finder, the first ever website with a comprehensive list of Federal resources available to help state and local governments, community organizations, houses of worship, schools, and others prevent acts of targeted violence and terrorism. The new website offers nearly 100 resources from 17 Federal partners all in one place. With this single stream resource, stakeholders no longer have to navigate multiple websites to find the critical resources and training materials they need to keep their communities safe. In its first month, the website had more than 24,000 page views and more than 10,000 return users.
- Expanding community-based diversion of individuals at risk of committing targeted violence or terrorism. The FBI has expanded its partnerships with local law enforcement, social service providers, mental health providers, and community leaders to try to prevent violence before it occurs. The DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant program doubled its annual funding to $20 million in 2021 to help nonprofits, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and institutions of higher education establish or enhance targeted violence and terrorism prevention. CP3 has invested $40 million across the United States to increase awareness, establish local prevention networks and provide training to community members.
- Boosting training opportunities to support local prevention efforts. Since 2021, CP3 has delivered nearly 250 briefings to communities and stakeholder groups on the threat of violence and creating local prevention efforts. The DHS I&A National Threat Evaluation and Reporting (NTER) Program Office has trained over 200 Master Trainers who assist state and local partners working to establish multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment and management (BTAM) programs. The National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) at the U.S. Secret Service continues to publish cutting edge research that supports these efforts. The launch of their most recent analysis of 173 attacks between 2016 and 2020 garnered 21,000 participants from all 50 states and 81 countries.
- Addressing the role of the Internet in influencing individuals to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The Administration has continued to participate in nongovernmental and multilateral efforts to understand and respond to terrorist content and activities online. A number of agencies are participating in the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, and the Administration joined the Christchurch Call to Action in 2021. DOJ’s National Institute of Justice has prioritized funding of research focused on the role of social media platforms in promoting and countering violent extremist content and information. DHS has also funded more than two dozen grants supporting these programs.
Disrupting and Deterring Domestic Terrorism
We know that strengthening prevention efforts at the state and local level are not the silver bullet to stopping domestic terrorism. The Administration has therefore also stressed the importance of deterring domestic terrorism by consistently investigating and prosecuting bad actors:
- Prioritizing domestic terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions at both the national and local level. The number of FBI domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism investigations has more than doubled since the spring of 2020 – to approximately 2,700 investigations at the end of fiscal year 2022. Additionally, DOJ has formed a domestic terrorism unit within the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section to better coordinate with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI, and others to charge and prosecute domestic violent extremism and terrorism subjects as appropriate. In addition, the DOJ has also updated its Justice Manual to add new notification and approval requirements regarding domestic extremism and terrorism matters to better track and consolidate the agency’s reporting.
- Enhancing support for state, local, tribal and territorial partners investigating and prosecuting domestic terrorists. Supporting these agencies goes beyond the information-sharing discussed earlier; partners need to receive actionable information in a timely and coordinated manner. To that end, in 2022 DHS deployed a mobile application, the DHS Intel mobile application, to support the rapid dissemination of DHS and partner-authored finished intelligence.
Confronting Long-Term Contributors to Domestic Terrorism
The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a series of efforts focused on the prevention and reduction of hate crimes.
The United We Stand Summit. Last September, the President hosted the Summit, which put forward a shared vision for a more united America, demonstrating that the vast majority of Americans agree that there is no place for hate-fueled violence in our country. We know that when Americans stand united to heal divides, we can help prevent acts of hate and violence. The Summit mobilized communities across the country to make commitments towards advancing an inclusive and bipartisan vision for a more united America. See this Fact Sheet for more information.
Presidential Initiatives to Address Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination. In December 2022, the President established an interagency policy committee (IPC) to counter bias and discrimination. In response to the alarming increase in antisemitic incidents among other acts of hate, the President directed the interagency group as its first order of business to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism.
In May 2023, the Administration released the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which includes over 100 meaningful actions that more than two dozen government agencies will take in the next year to counter antisemitism, as well as over 100 calls to action for Congress, state and local governments, companies, technology platforms, students, teachers and academics, civil society and faith leaders, and others to counter antisemitism. See this Fact Sheet for more information on the key strategy actions.