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FBI has more than doubled domestic terrorism caseload

FBI director warns of terror threat from "lone actors"
FBI director warns of terror threat from "lone actors" 00:20

The FBI announced it has more than doubled its domestic terrorism caseload — from roughly 1,000 to about 2,700 investigations — since spring of 2021.

It has also more than doubled the number of personnel devoted to domestic terrorism, fueled by the mammoth caseload stemming from the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the mounting threat of extremists harboring racial, ethnic and anti-government grievances.

"Today, terrorism moves at the speed of social media," Wray testified in a "Worldwide Threats" hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, following the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Afghanistan's power vacuum

National security officials voiced deep concern about the potential reconstitution of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as ISIS-K, the offshoot group behind last month's attack in Kabul, which killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 Afghans.

The FBI director also expressed concern that domestic actors — including resettled Afghan evacuees — could be further radicalized by foreign terrorists in the aftermath of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"We're putting a heavy focus on community outreach as the evacuees settle here in the United States," Wray told the Senate panel.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers more than 60,000 people have been brought into the U.S. from Afghanistan so far — including 7% who are U.S. citizens, 6% who are lawful permanent residents and 3% of whom are Afghans who have received special immigrant visas. The remainder represent vulnerable Afghans, some of whom are in the process of applying for a special immigration visa.

"We have not found many people with derogatory information relative to those who qualify for admission to the United States," Mayorkas said, though he did not provide a number. Mayorkas promised that the federal government would remove any Afghan evacuees who raised red flags, with possible relocation to a third country.

Threat of inspired violence

National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Director Christine Abizaid testified that the terror threat to the homeland is "less acute," than it was two decades ago, but said evolving threats from Afghanistan prove an "absolute top priority," for the center, as terror groups scramble to fill the country's power vacuum.

"The primary threat in the homeland comes from individuals inspired to violence, either by foreign terrorist groups or other domestic grievances and ideologies," Abizaid said. She noted that NCTC is evaluating how quickly terrorist groups in Afghanistan may gain the capacity to launch attacks on the U.S. homeland.  

Wray told the senior Republican on the committee, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, that he remains "certainly concerned" about Sirajuddin Haqqani, who both heads Afghanistan's counterterrorism program as acting interior minister and remains among the ranks of the FBI's most wanted. 

"We are concerned about what the future holds," Wray said.

Wray also noted that 62 law enforcement officers have been "feloniously killed on the job in 2021" in the U.S. – amounting to an officer murdered in his country, every five days, and already more than the total number of officers lost in 2020.

The situation in Del Rio, Texas

Lawmakers also inundated the DHS secretary with questions after thousands of migrants, most of them from Haiti, poured into the southern border near Del Rio, Texas, overwhelming U.S. border officials and prompting them to establish a makeshift migrant processing encampment underneath an international bridge.

The secretary pointed to a mass deployment of hundreds of border patrol officials and repatriation flights to Haiti, which have cut numbers from as many as 15,000 to less than 10,000. Mayorkas vowed the encampment would be cleared within 10 days, a situation he described as "unprecedented" and a "human tragedy."

"Do you bear responsibility for the crisis in Del Rio?" GOP Senator Josh Hawley, of Missouri, asked the secretary, multiple times. "Yes or no?"

"It is my responsibility to address the human tragedy in Del Rio," Mayorkas responded, noting that human traffickers had fed migrants misinformation about the United States' immigration policies.

Mayorkas also told lawmakers that footage of Border Patrol agents on horseback aggressively dispersing Haitian migrants, which first surfaced Monday, has been "uppermost" in his mind. "I was horrified to see the images," Mayorkas told lawmakers.

The secretary noted that DHS has commenced an internal probe into the behavior exhibited and has assigned personnel from the office of professional responsibility to "be on site 24/7 in Del Rio."

"We do not tolerate any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant," Mayorkas added. "Period."

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