According to Dr. Erroll Southers, a former assistant chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence at LAX and a former FBI agent, domestic terrorists are resurging during the Trump administration.
But even more disturbing is the White House seems to be reluctant to do anything about it, said Southers, who is a professor of the Practice in National and Homeland Security at the University of Southern California (USC.)
During his years at the FBI, Southers specialized in counterterrorism and domestic terrorism. He said that domestic hate groups saw a huge jump in numbers during the Obama years and it wasn’t just because of the president’s ethnicity. Hate groups also disliked the fact that Obama had a Muslim middle name and had a Jewish chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel.)
“Hate groups grew exponentially. There was a 755 percent growth during those years,” said Southers. “He (Obama) became a tremendous recruiting tool for them. He was the perfect storm.”
However, Southers added that these hate groups still remain a threat. President Donald Trump has promised to destroy ISIS and has tried to ban Muslims from immigrating to the country. But Southers said that 74 percent of homicides by extremists in the United States are committed by people associated with the far right.
“I think the bigger threat is home-grown terrorists,” said Southers.
White nationalist groups have become active during the Trump administration. This can be tied to Trump’s rhetoric, which often contains White nationalist messages. About two weeks ago, White nationalists marched in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the second anniversary of the Unite the Right march. The first march, conducted in Charlottesville, N.C., ended in the death of counter protester Heather Heyer. She was killed when white nationalist James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly rammed his car into a group of people.
Southers also pointed out that this new generation of white nationalists is using the Internet to recruit and spread their message. In fact, the first Unite the Right rally heavily relied on Internet messaging to organize.
“They’re attracting, younger tech-savvy men,” he said.
But Southers says the president hasn’t prioritized going after these group. Southers pointed out that the Trump administration cut funding to the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program which encourages neo-Nazis to leave the movement. He said the FBI is still tracking and investigating these groups, “but we have a White House that is not supportive.”