The threat America faces from white nationalist violence is at least equal to that posed by radical Islamist group ISIS, FBI Director Chris Wray told a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday.
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Wray told senators that "about 1000" cases of domestic terrorism were currently being investigated, and that that was approximately the same as the number of cases related to Islamic terrorism under investigation, The Hill has reported.
According to the report however, independent data reveals that the number of attacks carried out and planned by white supremacists is almost double those undertaken by Islamists.
The bureau director however, refused to rank either threat as being more pressing than the other.
"We take both of them very, very seriously," he said. "Our focus is on violence and threats of violence against the people of this country. That’s our concern — it’s not ideology.”
Some senators however, complained of a double standard in how the different threats are dealt with.
According to Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, not a single committee meeting had been held on the threat posed by domestic terrorism, despite the fact that attacks carried out by white supremacists were "almost triple" those carried out by those who identify with a jihadist movement.
While Democrat Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called on the committee to launch an investigation into white nationalist extremism in the U.S., Wray argued that the issue was one the legislature would have to tackle.
As there is not a domestic terrorism offense per se, a lot of cases are pursued on gun or explosive charges as opposed to charges of terrorism, as doing so would require proof of a link between the perpetrator and a foreign organization, Wray explained.
Having such crimes designated as terrorism would allow for farther reaching investigative powers, and thus aid the agency in its fight against nationalist violence.