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Justice Department creates domestic terrorism unit

"It is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States."
By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Oct. 14, 2015 at 3:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced the creation of the Domestic Terrorism Counsel, an office designed to coordinate investigations into homegrown attacks.

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said the new counsel will be the "main point of contact for U.S. attorneys working on domestic terrorism matters" during a speech at George Washington University.

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"The new DT Counsel will not only help ensure that DT cases are properly coordinated, but will also play a key role in our headquarters-level efforts to identify trends to help shape our strategy, and to analyze legal gaps or enhancements required to ensure we can combat these threats," Carlin said in the speech, according to prepared remarks.

The FBI defines domestic terrorism as "Americans attacking Americans based on U.S.-based extremist ideologies." The appointee to lead DT Counsel will be announced at a later date.

"In America, harboring extremist views is not itself a crime, nor is the expression of even a hateful ideology or association with a hateful group. But the line between speech and violence is crossed too often, resulting in heartbreaking tragedy," Carlin said.

Recent examples of possible domestic terrorism include the Chattanooga shooting spree, where five military servicemen were killed by gunman Mohammad Abdulazeez in July, and the Charleston church shooting in June, when nine churchgoers were killed by Dylan Roof, who confessed he wanted to start a race war.

"Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States," Carlin added. "We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups."

The deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history was the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where Timothy McVeigh set off a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing about 170 people, including 19 children.

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