It’s been nearly 17 years since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Now, the DHS has finally added white supremacy to its list of terrorist threats, NBC Affiliate WRCBtv reports.
“The continuing menace of racially based violent extremism, particularly white supremacist extremism, is an abhorrent affront to our nation, the struggle and unity of its diverse population, and the core values of both our society and our department,” the acting Homeland secretary, Kevin McAleenan, said in a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC on Friday (September 20) while unveiling the Department’s revised strategy document.
The announcement came in the wake of several mass shootings that have recently taken place in the U.S., with many being considered as “targeted violence.”
Racism and anti-Semitism have fueled attacks on African-American churches, synagogues, and public places in California and Texas, McAleenan said during his speech, according to MSN.
On August 3, a mass shooting targeting Hispanics took place at a Walmart in El Paso, TX, claiming the lives of 20 people, including six family members of DHS employees.
“The majority of our El Paso team, working to protect our nation, uphold the rule of law, and care for vulnerable migrants arriving at our border is Hispanic,” McAleenan said in Friday’s speech.
He added how the recent mass shootings have “galvanized the Department of Homeland Security to expand its counterterrorism mission focus beyond terrorists operating abroad, to include those radicalized to violence without borders by violent extremists of any ideology.”
While foreign terrorist groups still exist and pose a threat to the United States, more people have been killed in the U.S. by domestic terrorists in the past few years than by attacks committed or motivated by foreign terrorists, according to the FBI, WRCBtv reports.
Those attacks are largely racially motivated and mostly by white supremacists, FBI Director Chris Wray recently told Congress, according to WRCBtv.
Additionally, the FBI said more domestic terror suspects have been arrested than foreign ones. \
As part of the Department’s revised strategy, an important goal is countering the extremist message online.
“It’s too easy to get validation for your ideology,” McAleenan said.
DHS will work to discourage technology companies from hosting websites that spread radical hate, and encourage counter-messaging campaigns “seeking to steer individuals away from messages of violence.”
Other objectives outlined in the revised strategy include the Department conducting better analysis on the nature and extent of domestic terror threats before sharing the information with local law enforcement.
DHS will also provide more active shooter training to local law enforcement agencies to help them respond to gun violence, MSN reports.