WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is creating a new position to coordinate investigations into violent homegrown extremism, a department official said Wednesday.
Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, head of the department’s national security division, said that while the international terror threat occupies the public attention, federal officials remain just as concerned about the prospect of violence from Americans motivated by anti-government views and racist ideologies.
“We need to make sure we have the mechanisms in place so that we can continue to remain just as focused on the domestic terrorism threat while addressing the international terrorism threat,” Carlin said in a question-and-answer session after a George Washington University speech.
The new position, the Domestic Terrorism Counsel, will serve as the main point of contact for U.S. Attorney offices nationwide and will work to identify trends across cases, shape strategy and analyze legal gaps that need to be closed.
Carlin’s division in the last year has been heavily focused on the Islamic State, bringing roughly 60 cases to date tied to followers of the terror group.
But the speech Wednesday was an unusually blunt acknowledgment from the department’s top national security official that Americans inspired by racial hatred — but without any ties to established terror groups — remain a “clear and present danger” to the public.
He said experts have identified commonalities among the Islamic State followers and domestic extremist groups, including their ability to draw disaffected individuals.
He noted that more Americans have been killed in recent years in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups.