- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2019

The FBI has seen a “significant” rise in domestic terrorism by white supremacists since the fall, a senior bureau counterterrorism official said Thursday.

Arrests of white supremacist terror suspects increased by 40 percent in the past year, the official said, though the FBI would not provide exact statistics to back up the numbers.

The FBI is investigating about 5,000 active terrorism-related incidents in the United States and abroad. About 850 relate to domestic terrorism, while another 1,000 are tied to the Islamic State or affiliated groups.

During the first two quarters of the fiscal year, the FBI made 66 domestic terror-related arrests and 63 international terrorism arrests, according to the official.

The FBI official blamed a rise in copycat and retaliatory plots inspired by a successful attacks as a reason for the increase in attacks by white supremists.

Last month, authorities arrested U.S. Army veteran Mark Steven Domingo, who was accused of planning a massive attack in Long Beach, California, as retribution for the New Zealand mosque shootings that left 51 dead.

President Trump has said the Islamic State has been broken overseas, after years of spreading terror from its base of operations in Iraq and Syria, spurring both coordinated and lone-wolf attacks.

Some analysts had figured terrorism would improve, while others warned of people who left their home countries to fight with the caliphate returning home as trained and motivated terrorists.

The FBI says Islamic State-inspired propaganda is motivating home-grown violent extremists to plot attacks.

The Internet has made it easier for them to recruit disciples, speeding up the time between radicalization and attacks, according to the official.

“We’ve seen the majority of successful [home-grown violent extremist] attackers radicalize in the timespan of one to four years, but they typically mobilize in less than three months,” the official said. “Both the radicalization and mobilization process are becoming shorter and shorter.”

The result appears to be no net change in the threat.

“In essence, the loss of the physical caliphate is not changing the threat here in the homeland with our home-grown violent extremists. They are still using the information and propaganda on the Internet and being influenced by it and mobilizing to act,” the official said.

The FBI said it’s not ignoring the overseas terror threat as it steps up its efforts on the home front.

The bureau has been under pressure from congressional Democrats to declare right-wing terrorism a bigger threat to the U.S. than radical Islam.

The FBI official who briefed reporters said Thursday that while the white supremacist numbers appear to have increased, making comparisons with the past is difficult because the bureau has made adjustments.

Since there’s no domestic terrorism charge, analysts have to make judgment calls about which gun- or drug-related crimes fall into the white supremacist terrorism category.

Other cases were rebranded to provide greater clarity on the suspect’s motivation.

For example, Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to mailing bombs to Mr. Trump’s critics, was identified as a white supremacist, but his targets were based on politics, not race.

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