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US Justice Department creating unit focused on domestic terrorism

In this September 7, 2020, file photo, a protester carries a Proud Boys banner, a right-wing group, while other members start to unfurl a large US flag in front of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Oregon. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)
In this September 7, 2020, file photo, a protester carries a Proud Boys banner, a right-wing group, while other members start to unfurl a large US flag in front of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Oregon. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

The Justice Department is establishing a specialized unit focused on domestic terrorism, the department’s top national security official tells lawmakers, as he describes an “elevated” threat from violent extremists in the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, testifying just days after the nation observed the one-year anniversary of the violent insurrection at the US Capitol, says the number of FBI investigations into suspected domestic violent extremists has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.

“We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen says.

Jill Sanborn, the executive assistant director in charge of the FBI’s national security branch who testified alongside Olsen, says the greatest threat comes from lone extremists who radicalize online and look to carry out violence at so-called “soft targets.”

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