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Biden administration unveils plan to step up fight against domestic terrorism

By
Zarrin Ahmed & Danielle Haynes
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event at the Justice Department on Tuesday. Pool Photo by Win McNamee/UPI
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event at the Justice Department on Tuesday. Pool Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's administration unveiled a new national strategy on Tuesday to counter a rise in domestic terrorism, which includes adding prosecutors and other law enforcement officials across the government.

The strategy seeks $100 million to add key personnel in the departments of justice and homeland security. It also calls for monitoring federal employees who could pose an inside threat.

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"First, we are focused on violence, not ideology," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday in announcing key details of the plan. "We don't investigate people for their First Amendment activities ... There is no place for violence in resolving political differences in our democracy.

"We will never take our eyes off the risk of another devastating attack by foreign terrorists. At the same time, we must respond to domestic terrorism with the same sense of purpose and dedication.

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Biden called for a comprehensive review when he took office in January that led to Tuesday's strategy.

"Domestic terrorism -- driven by hate, bigotry and other forms of extremism -- is a stain on the soul of America," Biden said in a statement. "It goes against everything our country strives for, and it poses a direct challenge to our national security, democracy and unity."

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The White House said the review ordered by Biden found that acts of domestic terrorism are primarily carried out by racially motivated White extremists or anti-government extremists.

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One of the main focuses of Biden's strategy is to improve the sharing of information across federal agencies to track domestic terrorism, a key failing that investigators say contributed to the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol by radical supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The strategy also allocates tens of millions of dollars to help prevent and respond to domestic violence, impose stricter screening methods for federal employees, and address hate crimes. It pledges that the government "will work to ensure that law enforcement operates without bias."

"Every component of the government has a role to play in rooting out racism and bigotry and advancing equity for all Americans," the White House said in a statement. "In a true democracy, violence cannot be an acceptable mode of seeking political or social change."

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The four main prongs of the plan are to understand and share cosmetic terrorism-related information, prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence, disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity and confront long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.

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"This is a project that should unite all Americans," Biden added. "Together we must affirm that domestic terrorism has no place in our society. We must work to root out the hatreds that can too often drive violence."

The FBI said there's been an increase in the number of open domestic terrorism cases this year.

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