The El Paso terrorist attack has revived interest in the possibility of making “domestic terrorism” a federal offense.
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On Aug. 4, in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman opened fire and killed nine people. The day before, another shooter killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, apparently after posting a racist message to the anonymous online forum 8chan decrying an ostensible “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Though there is no indication so far that the Dayton shooting was motivated by extremist political beliefs, the violence in El Paso is the third mass shooting in 2019 to be linked to 8chan and to some form of far-right extremism.
Recently, Lawfare published a compelling article by leading former national security officials on the similarities between international terrorism and domestic terrorism, and the problems caused when governments seek to draw an overly rigid distinction between the two.
On Monday, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office alleged in a motion for detention pending trial that Rondell Henry stole a U-Haul with the intent of ramming the vehicle into crowds of people at National Harbor in Potomac, Maryland. Henry was arrested on April 3 pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. A motion for pretrial detention explained that Henry poses a flight risk and public safety threat by revealing that his actions were inspired by the Islamic State and the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France.
The official position of the Department of Justice—according to a legal brief filed in February—is that association with a terrorism charge is so stigmatizing that defendants should not be publicly identified, even after conviction. Doing so would lead to “harassment, embarrassment, barriers to reintegration and renewed public attention.” It might even expose defendants to “the potential for violence or renewed contact” by extremist groups “plotting future terrorist attacks or intimidating witnesses.”
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, arrested in October 2018 in connection with the mailing of 16 pipe bombs to 13 former government officials and prominent Democrats, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 65 felony counts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Sayoc was charged by the Manhattan U.S.
A Maryland-based Coast Guardsman, Christopher Hasson, has been charged with criminal possession of firearms, under 18 U.S.C.
On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers launched an attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., murdering 11 worshipers and injuring many others. The federal indictment against Bowers charges him with multiple counts of obstructing, by force and threat of force, “the free exercise of religious beliefs” resulting in death and bodily injury and involving the use of a dangerous weapon and attempts to kill.
Before Saturday, Oct. 27, relatively few people were familiar with Gab, the fringe social network developed as an alternative to Twitter and Facebook. By the end of the day, however, media outlets from Reuters to CNN had issued “explainers” on Gab as a online haven for far-right extremism online.