The U.S. Justice Department said this week that it has created a new office which would focus on homegrown extremists.
Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin announced the move on Wednesday in a talk at a terrorism seminar at George Washington University. He said the new office, the Domestic Terrorism Counsel, will be the main point of contact for federal prosecutors working on domestic terrorism cases.
Carlin said the new office was created “in recognition of a growing number of potential domestic terrorism matters around the United States.”
According to HomeLand Security News Wire, the announcement dove-tails with findings earlier this year by the Kansas City Star that following the 9/11 attacks, U.S. law enforcement had shifted its attention, and the allocation of law enforcement and intelligence resources, from domestic to foreign terrorism. The result, the Star’s investigation found, was that federal authorities had lost sight of domestic extremists.
The Star notes that that lack of focus, funding, and information-sharing across disparate agencies occurred at a time when violence was metastasizing, leading to fatal consequences for unsuspecting victims around the country.
In his presentation on Wednesday, Carlin said the Domestic Terrorism Counsel would coordinate domestic terrorism cases and have an important role in identifying trends and exploring ways to disrupt the threats.
Carlin, who runs the Justice Department’s national security division, said intelligence and law enforcement agencies had been mainly focused on Islamic extremists in recent years.
“Much attention has focused on those inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) message of hate and violence spreading worldwide and reaching homes here in America through the group’s unprecedented social media recruitment efforts,” he said. “And rightly so.”