The FBI is conducting 1,000 investigations of suspected white supremacists or other types of domestic terrorists who might be planning violence, reports the Washington Post. Christopher Wray, in his first congressional testimony as FBI director, confirmed that his office has about 1,000 inquiries that people generally categorize as “domestic terrorism’’ — a catchall term often used to describe those motivated to commit violence in furtherance of racist causes. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, prompted Wray to confirm the number. FBI officials have said they had 1,000 ongoing investigations of suspects who may be inspired by the Islamic State terrorist group to commit violence. This was the first public indication that the FBI is dealing with a similar number of domestic terrorism cases.
Federal law makes it a crime to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group. There is no corresponding law regarding support for a violent white supremacist group. “In most ways they’re similar, probably the biggest difference is there’s not a domestic terrorism offense as such,’’ Wray said. He added that investigations of foreign-inspired suspects also may use foreign intelligence court orders to gather intelligence — a tool that is not available in an investigation of a white supremacist group. The debate about the lack of such a law intensified after a suspected white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville this summer, killing a woman. He is awaiting trial in state court on murder charges.