N.J. Dems want to target white supremacists and other extremists in fight against domestic terrorism

Posted Sep 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — Two days before the anniversary of 9/11, two New Jersey lawmakers announced a new effort to target domestic terrorism, whether inspired by al-Qaida or white supremacism.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell Jr. proposed legislation that would allow law enforcement authorities to freeze the assets of domestic terrorists or those who provide material support, and to set up a national clearinghouse to collect and share information about terrorist incidents in the U.S.

The lawmakers made their announcement in Ridgewood after hearing from Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. They said Maples identified homegrown violent extremists as the state’s top threat.

“It’s not only ISIS-inspired and other foreign-terrorist threats,” said Gottheimer, D-5th Dist. "We have also seen a dramatic spike in an age-old homegrown enemy — white supremacy, rightwing nationalists, and other extremists. It’s incredibly clear to me that we need to be using every tool in our arsenal to disrupt and defeat all homegrown threats.”

President Donald Trump sought to cut off immigration from several Muslim-majority nations in the name of national security, though none from the countries where the 9/11 hijackers came from.

But several Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said the president’s own rhetoric had encouraged white supremacists to launch terrorist attacks in the U.S., including the murder of more than 20 people in El Paso, Texas by a gunman warning of an “Hispanic invasion.”

And Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., introduced a resolution in April that “rejects the hateful propaganda of white supremacist terrorists” and “condemns political leaders who legitimize white supremacist ideology."

Of the 427 people killed by domestic extremists from 2009 to 2018, 73 percent came at the hands of right-wing extremists, including white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Islamic extremists were responsible for 23 percent.

“The continuing attacks from right-wing domestic terrorists is out of control and getting worse,” said Pascrell, D-9th Dist. “We need to increase resources for community programs that identify radicalization before it metastasizes. And we must denounce incendiary rhetoric from all leaders that emboldens extremists.”

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