“Black identity extremists” are among the FBI’s top counterterrorism priorities under President Donald Trump — more so than terror groups such as Al Qaeda, according to documents leaked to The Young Turks.
Under the Trump administration, they’re at the very top of the FBI’s counterterrorism priorities list. The leaked documents lay out the Bureau’s 2018-2019 fiscal year focal points in counterterrorism, cyber crime and counterintelligence.
The 2018-2019 “Threat Guidance” documents describe Black identity extremists as those who “use force or violence in violation of criminal law in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society,” Newsweek reported. The files claim that some Black identity extremists acted in hopes of “establishing a separate black homeland or autonomous Black social institutions, communities or governing organizations within the USA.”
Under a code name “IRON FIST,” the leaked documents suggest the FBI plans infiltrate and use other undercover techniques to “mitigate” threats posed by Black extremist groups, including exploiting the felony status of some members, Newsweek reported.
The FBI has been criticized for adopting the racially-loaded term “Black identity extremists” ever since it created the term in 2017 as a designation for domestic terrorist groups, according to a statement from Sen. Cory Booker’s office.
By 2019, the FBI replaced its counterterrorism priority “Black Identity Extremists” with a vaguer designation — “Racially Motivated Extremism,” according to the bureau’s FY2018-20 counterterrorism strategy guides obtained by The Young Turks.
But the name stuck.
On July 23, FBI Director Christopher Wray announced that the agency no longer uses the “inflammatory and baseless ‘Black identity extremists’ label as a designation for domestic terrorist groups.”
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Wray made this announcement while being questioned by Booker during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
The FBI has been insisting that the label hasn’t existed for 17 months, according to Booker’s office. However, Wray acknowledged the label in Congressional hearings in June 2018, and, as recently as April 2019, the FBI was still using the label in Congressional staff briefings.
The documents obtained by The Young Turks do not cite a single specific violent Black extremist attack, unlike white supremacist attacks, where several prominent examples are provided.
White nationalist violence is on the rise but the FBI is slow to call it domestic terrorism, NBCNewsreported.
Despite the apparent rise in attacks, the leaked documents show that in 2018, the FBI anticipated a decline in national white supremacist group memberships.
“The FBI further judges ongoing attrition of national organized white supremacy extremist groups will continue over the next year, yielding a white supremacy extremist movement primarily characterized by locally organized groups, small cells, and lone offenders,” the 2018 threat guidance states.
Written by Dana Sanchez