House Passes Rose's Bill to Require Terrorist Threat Assessment of Foreign Violent White Supremacist Extremist Groups

Press Release

By: Max Rose
By: Max Rose
Date: Sept. 30, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Defense

The House of Representatives today passed Congressman Max Rose's Transnational White Supremacist Extremism Review Act (H.R. 5736), which would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop and disseminate a terrorist threat assessment of foreign violent white supremacist extremist groups.

"The homeland security threat posed by white supremacist extremists is pervasive and it is persistent," said Rose on the House floor today prior to passage. "And extremists exploit such crises as we are in right now--often, this involves the targeting of the most vulnerable in society. Earlier this year, the Directors of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center testified before our Committee regarding the unrelenting nature of bad actors during times like these. Both testified to the significant homeland security threat posed from racially-motivated domestic actors--primarily white supremacist extremists. In my capacity as chair of the Intelligence and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, I have joined with my colleagues to raise the alarm about this threat. In carrying out my work on the Committee, I have identified a common theme--and that is plain and simple--that this white supremacist "domestic' terrorist problem is in fact not domestic at all. It is global in nature."

Researchers and experts have observed that the threat posed by violent white supremacist extremism is increasingly transnational in nature. Some white supremacist extremists have even traveled abroad to train in warzone environments: by one estimate, 17,000 individuals from 50 countries have traveled to battlefields in Ukraine to train and fight, including white supremacist extremists seeking training from neo-Nazi militant groups. In January 2020, Federal authorities arrested a Canadian national, a recruiter for a violent white supremacist extremist group, as he was allegedly planning violence at a gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia.

Violence by white supremacist extremists in the United States has been increasingly linked to groups, individuals, or movements abroad. Some individuals, like the perpetrators of 2019 attacks in El Paso, TX targeting Latinos and other people of color and Poway, CA targeting Jewish worshipers, drew inspiration from white supremacist attacks abroad. Others are members of groups that have formed networks to communicate and train, and in several cases have carried out acts of violence in the United States.

Rose continued, "Countering white supremacy will require a whole of society approach--education, awareness, and so on. Through our work on this committee, we have found that Americans stay safest when law enforcement--at all levels--is equipped with the best available information. This bill makes sure that our frontline responders in the law enforcement community have just that."

At a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing earlier this month, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray testified that testified that "racially motivated violent extremism," mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats in recent years and that the FBI is currently pursuing "a good bit north of 1,000" domestic terrorism investigations this year.

As Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Rose has been a leader in confronting the threat of white supremacist extremism. Earlier this year, Rose introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the global threat transnational white supremacist extremism presents to America and urging the U.S. Department of State to designate qualifying violent foreign white supremacist groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In April, the State Department heeded Rose's call and, for the first time in history, designated a foreign white supremacist group, the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), along with three of its leaders, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity.

In a recent hearing chaired by Rose, Administration officials testified that that neo-Nazi organizations pose significant threats and that designating them as Foreign Terrorist Organizations would give more tools to law enforcement to protect from those threats. Earlier this year, Rose penned a column in the New York Times with former FBI agent Ali Soufan on the threats posed by transnational violent white supremacist groups interconnected through networks here at home and across the world.