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Oral Testimony of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas before the Senate Appropriations Committee

On May 12, Secretary Mayorkas appeared before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to testify in a hearing titled, “Domestic Violent Extremism in America.” His delivered remarks are below:

 

Every day, the Department of Homeland Security’s more than 240,000 dedicated public servants work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and secure.  Today, I will highlight the work our Department is undertaking to combat the most significant and immediate terrorism-related threat to our homeland, which is the threat posted by domestic violence extremism.

The terrorism-related threats we face as a Nation have significantly evolved since the Department’s creation in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  

The threat landscape is now more complex, more dynamic, and more diversified.

Today, Racially-or Ethnically-Motivated Violent Extremists are the most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians, and Anti-Government or Anti-Authority Violent Extremists, specifically Militia Violent Extremists, are the most likely to target law enforcement, government personnel, and government facilities.

The threats posed by domestic violent extremism are often fueled by false narratives, conspiracy theories, and extremist rhetoric spread throughout social media and other online platforms. 

Further, domestic violent extremists who act alone continue to pose significant detection and disruption challenges because of their capacity for independent radicalization to violence, their ability to mobilize discreetly, and their access to weapons. 

As a result, the Department is redoubling its efforts to detect and disrupt all forms of foreign and domestic terrorism and targeted violence, while safeguarding privacy protections, civil rights, and civil liberties.

The Department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism – both internally and externally.

In January, DHS released a National Terrorism Advisory System – or “NTAS” – Bulletin highlighting the threat posed by domestic violent extremists.  It was the first NTAS issued in over a year and also the first solely focused on a domestic threat. 

In addition, this year I designated for the first time domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within the Department’s Homeland Security Grant Program.  This means that states and urban areas across the nation will spend at least $77 million to prevent, prepare for, protect against, and respond to acts of domestic violent extremism. 

The Department is currently expanding its analytic focus to more comprehensively review how extremists exploit and leverage social media and other online platforms, and how online activities are linked to real-world violence. 

We are also enhancing our ability to analyze, produce, and disseminate products that address the full range of terrorism and targeted violence.  We recently established a dedicated domestic terrorism branch within our Office of Intelligence & Analysis to ensure the Department develops the expertise necessary to combat this threat using sound, timely intelligence. 

One of the Department’s most important missions is to provide actionable intelligence to the broadest audience at the lowest classification level possible.  As a result, DHS is working closely with its partners to augment its intelligence and information-sharing capabilities to inform public safety and security planning efforts across the country.   

In the coming months, the Department will increase training options and other support to help identify individuals at risk of radicalization.   

Among my top priorities is to ensure that our personnel can perform their critical missions, that they feel safe and secure at work, and that the fabric of our Department is not penetrated by hate or violent extremism. 

In light of this commitment, I announced last month an internal review to address potential threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS and ensure we are not compromised in our ability to protect our country.

As I have said before, the Department of Homeland Security is fundamentally a department of partnerships. Our success depends on the strength of these partnerships, as we cannot accomplish our mission alone.

DHS will remain focused on strengthening its partnerships across every level of government, the private sector, and the diverse communities we serve to enhance, together, our collective prevention capabilities nationwide.  

We recently established a new Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships – or “CP3” – to improve the Department’s ability to combat terrorism and targeted violence by leveraging behavioral threat assessment and management tools capable of identifying early-risk factors that can lead to violence in communities across the country.  

Individuals who may be radicalizing, or have radicalized, to violence typically exhibit behaviors that are recognizable to many but are best understood by those closest to them, such as friends, family, and classmates. CP3 will help build local prevention frameworks to provide communities with the tools they need to combat terrorism and targeted violence, consistent with privacy protections, civil rights and civil liberties, and our laws.

Further, the Department will continue working closely with its partners to build greater public awareness of and resilience to disinformation.

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of our Department. 

I look forward to working closely with this Committee, and with other Members of Congress, on our shared priorities.

With that, I am pleased to take your questions.

Keywords: Domestic Terrorism, Domestic Violent Extremism (DVE), Terrorism Prevention
Topics: Preventing Terrorism, Secretary of Homeland Security

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