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US: FBI director warns of growing threat of violent extremism

‘January 6 was not an isolated event'

FBI-director-christopher-wray-reuters FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

FBI Director Christopher Wray, at his appearance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, condemned the attack on the US Capitol and called it ‘domestic terrorism’. Wray made his first public testimony on the riots at the Capitol by Trump supporters in January, on Tuesday.

Wray, while condemning the way his agency handled an intelligence report lending a warning about the insurrection, also warned of a growing threat of violent extremism in the US, the law enforcement is scrambling to confront.  

“January 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasising across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray said. He also rejected claims by Republicans that it was an anti-Trump group that stormed the Capitol.  

The focus of Tuesday’s hearing was on what the FBI knew leading up to the insurrection.

Wray, who was named FBI director in 2017, said the number of domestic terrorism investigations had increased from 1,000 in 2017 to 1,499 at the end of 2020, to about 2,000 now.

Capitol Police leaders have said that they were unaware of the FBI sending an intelligence report anticipating the violence on January 6. Wray said of the FBI, “We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and in not one, not two, but three different ways.” He also said that the FBI is looking into what could have been done differently.

A total of 300 people have been charged in connection with the riots at the Capitol two months ago. These include18 people associated with the far-right group Proud Boys and nine people associated with the anti-government militia called the Oath Keepers, who have been charged with conspiracy to storm the Capitol. 

Wray, at the testimony, also said that there was no evidence the attack was planned or carried out by Antifa, a term used to describe leftist militants.

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