A Department of Homeland Security report announced “significant gaps” in detecting and responding to domestic violent extremism by DHS employees.
The Domestic Violent Extremism Internal Review was ordered by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Its purpose was to determine how to prevent, detect and respond to potential
threats related to domestic violent extremism within the department.
Department investigators “[F]ound very few instances of the DHS workforce having been engaged in domestic violent extremism,” the report noted. “However, [they] assessed that the Department has significant gaps that have impeded its ability to comprehensively prevent, detect, and respond to potential threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.”
Domestic violent extremism poses one of the most significant terrorism-related threats to the United States, according to DHS officials.
“We must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organization,” Secretary Mayorkas said in an April 26, 2021 message to agency employees.
After the Capitol riot of January 2021, domestic threats received more attention from Homeland Security. The Department found issues in identifying domestic terrorism threats, even within its own agency. First, they found the agency did not track domestic violent extremism allegations as their own sub-category of misconduct. DHS classified such allegations as workplace violence, according to the agency report.
Second, the responsibility to investigate violent extremist activity allegations varied across the Department; they could be led by multiple offices such as the DHS Office of Inspector General, internal investigation offices or the Insider Threat Program. Further, other gaps included the lack of an official definition of “domestic violent extremist”; guidance as to what constitutes violent extremist activity, or — at the least — an established list of behaviors that may be indicators of violent extremism; the lack of a centralized investigative case management system; and, lack of standardized reporting and information sharing mechanisms.
The task force that created the report recommended highlighting focus in recruitment materials.
“One of the most effective methods of preventing domestic violent extremists from entering the DHS workforce is to discourage individuals engaging in violent extremist activities from applying to the Department in the first place,” the group wrote.
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