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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Apr 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.

Read more: Bloomberg

Good morning Chairman Cartwright, Ranking Member Aderholt, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the FBI’s role in combating domestic terrorism. I am pleased to be here representing the dedicated men and women of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

As has been stated multiple times before, preventing terrorist attacks, from any place, by any actor, remains the FBI’s top priority. The nature of the threat posed by terrorism—both international terrorism (IT) and domestic terrorism (DT)—continues to evolve.

It is not possible to discuss the evolving domestic terrorism threat in the United States today without examining the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. To be clear, the violence and destruction of property at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 showed a blatant and appalling disregard for our institutions of government and the orderly administration of the democratic process. The FBI has deployed the full force of our investigative resources and is working closely with our federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to aggressively pursue those involved in the violent siege of the Capitol complex on January 6, 2021. FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, and professional staff have been hard at work gathering evidence, sharing intelligence, and working with federal prosecutors to bring charges against the individuals involved.

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A Brainerd man has been sentenced to four years in prison and must pay $12 million in restitution for his role in lighting the Minneapolis Third Precinct police headquarters on fire during civil unrest after the death of George Floyd.Last May, Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 23, trampled over a fence meant to keep protesters out and lit a Molotov cocktail, which another person threw toward the precinct — shortly after the crowd began shouting, "Burn it down, burn it down," according to federal charges.

"On the night of May 28, 2020, Mr. Robinson chose to depart from lawful protest and instead engaged in violence and destruction," said a statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Anders Folk, whose office prosecuted the case. "The arson at the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct put lives at risk and contributed to widespread lawlessness in Minneapolis."Robinson pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. As part of his sentence, he will serve two years of supervised release and must pay $12 million in restitution.

Read more: Minneapolis Star Tribune

Germany's domestic intelligence agency says some parts of the anti-Covid lockdown movement are being kept under observation amid concerns they may be trying to delegitimise the state.

They are focusing particularly on some members of the "Querdenker" (lateral thinkers) movement and say they do not fit into previous extremist categories.

The BfV agency highlighted links with far-right and other extremist groups.

Lawful protest was being "exploited to provoke an escalation", it warned.

Although the majority of protesters are not seen as extremists, "Querdenker" anti-lockdown demonstrations have drawn support from a variety of groups, including the far-right AfD party, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.

The BfV (federal office for the protection of the constitution) said the protest organisers' agenda had gone beyond objecting to anti-Covid measures and had been connecting with Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) and Selbstverwalter (Sovereign Citizens) who reject the authority of the German government and spread anti-Semitic slurs.

Read more: BBC News

The French government on Wednesday unveiled a new counterterrorism and intelligence bill aiming at better preventing attacks, notably via a greater surveillance of extremist websites.

The bill, which had been in preparation for months, was formally presented in a Cabinet meeting just days after a French police official was killed inside her police station in what authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack.

In a news conference, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the text will strengthen French intelligence services’ power to watch people’s online activities.

Extremists “are using less and less phone lines and more and more internet connections,” he said.

Read more: France 24