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US Lacks Laws Against “Domestic Terrorism”, New York Counterterrorism Boss Says

The New York counterterrorism boss said Thursday that the United States needs new laws in the face of the threat posed by extremists and “domestic terrorists”, such as those who led the assault on the Capitol on the 6th. January. “We do not have laws against domestic terrorism comparable to what we have against international terrorism,” said John Miller during a press briefing.

So far, he noted, “we Americans have been very reluctant … to discontinue constitutionally protected activities. But I believe we need to revisit the issue for operating groups. in the United States (…) with the idea of ​​overthrowing the government by violence. We should not have to go through a list of articles of law to find the one that corresponds to a crime. There should be a text comprehensive covering domestic terrorist organizations “.

“Those who thought it was not a good idea two weeks ago should probably think about it again now,” he added.

To fight against threats from Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group, classified as a “foreign terrorist organization”, American laws allow the police to prosecute anyone who provides them with the slightest material support.

An American can thus be prosecuted if he discusses on a forum of the Islamic State group, but not if he exchanges with a neo-Nazi group located in the United States, even if he is in the process of building up an arsenal.

Analysts recently interviewed by . stressed in recent days that the United States was less well armed against the threat of violence from the far-right than against the jihadists.

On Tuesday, 70 people had already been charged in connection with the violence on the Capitol, and 170 suspects identified. The justice ministry said it expected “hundreds” of indictments in the coming months.

Authorities fear further violence ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20. Washington is crisscrossed by police and military, and all American states have been called upon to strengthen the security of their respective Capitol, where their local parliament sits.

Investigation into Pentagon’s anti-extremism efforts in the military opens

An investigation was opened Thursday into the Pentagon’s efforts to counter the rise of extremism within the US military, as military and former military personnel are accused of participating in the January 6 violence in Congress. The Pentagon’s office of the Inspector General, an independent body charged with investigating the sprawling administration that manages a population of more than two million troops, said in a statement that the investigation would begin before the end of the month.

In an open letter also published Thursday, 14 Democratic senators said they had asked the Inspector General to conduct this investigation, stressing that “the Pentagon recognizes the existence of the problem but has failed to implement a detailed plan to address it” .

They cite an informal poll conducted in September by the specialist journal Military Times, which showed that a third of active military personnel had “observed signs of racism or white supremacism in the ranks.” In addition, two-thirds of the participants cited white nationalists as a “notable threat”.

The Ministry of Defense defended its counter-extremism measures during a press conference.

The Pentagon “expressly prohibits the military from actively defending supremacist, extremist, or gang-related ideologies or causes,” assured the ministry’s director of intelligence, Gary Reid. “All soldiers, including members of the National Guard, have been subjected to an investigation into their past, are constantly assessed and are enrolled in a program of protection against internal threats,” he added.

“We know that some groups are trying to recruit our soldiers or encourage their members to join”

Mr Reid did not give any figures on the number of servicemen belonging to extremist groups, nor did he comment on the presence of at least one Army soldier among Donald Trump supporters who took part in the violence last week. .

But a senior ministry official acknowledged that “the resurgence of activities by white supremacists and white nationalists over the past 5 to 6 years” has caused “deep concern” in the Pentagon. “We know that some groups are trying to recruit our soldiers or even encourage their members to join the military to gain military skills and experience,” he added.

He said new recruits were subjected to extensive background investigations, including from former teachers, neighbors or employers.

But the Pentagon is accused of not seeking to measure the proportion of extremists in its ranks, nor of publishing regular reports on its efforts as it does in the fight against sexual assault.

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