Posted on May 3, 2021

Domestic Terrorism Law Being Weighed by Justice Department

Chris Strohm and Shaun Courtney, Bloomberg, April 29, 2021

The Justice Department is “actively considering” whether to seek a new law that would let prosecutors bring specific charges for plotting and carrying out acts of domestic terrorism, a senior department official said.

“One of the things we’re looking at is would we need new authorities,” Brad Wiegmann, deputy assistant attorney general for the department’s national security division, said during a House hearing Thursday.

Wiegmann said the department has been successful using existing laws to fight domestic terrorism, such as bringing charges for offenses involving violations of weapons or explosives laws, hate crimes and arson. He said more than 430 arrests have been made in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. The attack was carried out by extremist supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

The FBI has warned that domestic violent extremists pose a heightened threat for carrying out attacks in the U.S. in the near future, with white supremacists being the most lethal threat.


Currently, no U.S. law lets the government designate domestic extremists as terrorists or bring specific charges for domestic terrorism. That contrasts with laws to combat international terrorism, which allow the government to designate groups and bring charges for providing those groups with material support.


The Justice Department recently took other steps to better address the threat of domestic terrorism.

In March, for example, the department directed U.S. attorney’s offices across the country to notify headquarters in Washington about investigations and cases that are related to domestic extremism, Wiegmann said. {snip}