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White terror threatens U.S., but feds target Blacks, Left

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Aug 29, 2019 - 3:57:49 PM

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WASHINGTON—Even though the federal government has known for years that all recent incidents of domestic terror have been perpetrated by White nationalists, the government’s strategy for addressing spiraling White violence follows a familiar Republican playbook: Downplay White nationalism and blame Blacks and the left.

Family members of Margie Reckard react after arriving at La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Center in El Paso, Texas, for her funeral, Aug. 16. Reckard was among those killed in a racially motivated mass shooting on Aug 3.

As early as May 2017, the agencies warned that “white supremacist groups had carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremists over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by Foreign Policy,” investigative reporter Jana Winter wrote for that outlet.

But in a 2018-2019 “Threat Guidance,” the FBI, listed “black identity extremists” and animal rights activists among the agency’s top counterterrorism priorities, according to documents obtained by The Young Turks, and reported by Newsweek. And a leaked congressional Republican document obtained by the Tampa Bay Times suggested that the party blame recent mass shootings as “violence from the left.”

“Yeah, the FBI changed the way they categorize domestic extremists and it’s sort of baffling why they did this,” Ms. Winter said in an interview. “But instead of calling groups White supremacists, they now call them ‘racially motivated extremists.’ And in that category is also ‘black identity extremist,’ which is a made up category from a few years back.

“When we look at this data and the breakdown, it shows 100 percent of these racially motivated incidents were by White supremacists. So it’s sweeping up a group of people into the actual White supremacist group, but calling it something else. So I mean that certainly seems like a political move obviously, but it’s also a ridiculous waste of resources,” she continued.

“So the FBI came out of nowhere in 2017 and said basically Black people are potentially terrorist threats. And now, the FBI director was questioned about this during his testimony in June, and he said that they don’t use this term anymore. They call everyone racially motivated extremists.”

The FBI is thus able to put people under surveillance simply based on their own made-up threat category. “By placing them under the umbrella of racially motivated extremists, they are trying to expand the circle of who can be surveilled and monitored and investigated on U.S. soil,” said Ms. Winter. There are also efforts on Capitol Hill to make domestic terrorism a prosecutable event.

According to Foreign Policy, an August 2017 FBI report appears to be the first known reference to “black identity extremists” as a movement. But former government officials and legal experts said no such movement exists, and some expressed concern that the term is part of a politically motivated effort to find an equivalent threat to White supremacists. “This is a new umbrella designation that has no basis,” a former counterterrorism and intelligence official from the Department of Homeland Security who reviewed the document for FP said. “There are civil rights and privacy issues all over this.”

Some experts said the FBI seemed to be trying to paint a wide range of groups and individuals as sharing a radical, defined ideology. In the phrase “black identity extremist” it’s easy to hear echoes of the FBI’s decades-long Counter Intelligence (COINTELPRO) Program targeting Black activists as potential radicals.

“They are grouping together Black Panthers, Black nationalists, and (the) Washitaw Nation,” the former Homeland Security official said. “Imagine lumping together white nationals, white supremacists, militias, neo-Nazis, and calling it ‘white identity extremists.’ ” The FBI is linking the people discussed in the report based only on them being Black, rather than on any sort of larger ideological connection, the official said. “The race card is being played here deliberately” to tar Black people.

“It certainly seems like that,” said Ms. Winter, the investigative reporter. “I wouldn’t speak to the motivations of what people are doing exactly, but we can only look at the results.”

The leaked FBI documents revealed a strategy titled “IRON FIST,” which would utilize infiltration and other undercover techniques to “mitigate” threats posed by Black extremist groups, including exploiting the felony status of some members, according to the Newsweek report.

Some language labels Blacks as racists. “Likely to target civilian and government entities that are perceived as oppressors, including, but not limited to, law enforcement officers, the U.S. government, members of rival BSE (Black Supremacist Extremist) groups, and individuals based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion,” read one section of the leaked report called “Key Domain Entities.”

Republican members of Congress had their own smokescreens, like Mr. Trump after the Charlottesville, Va. violence, blaming both sides.

“We have sadly seen violence from ideological extremists on both sides, and that is completely unacceptable and must be condemned,” said Summer Robertson, press spokeswoman for Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) who included GOP authored talking points in a newsletter he emailed to constituents. “Congressman Bilirakis has always been clear that he denounces bigotry and hate speech, regardless of its source, including from white nationalists.”