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FBI Director Tells Lawmakers Terrorism is Still Number 1 National Security Threat

Christopher Wray

Lawmakers should have a better understanding of the greatest threats facing the US following an annual Capitol Hill assessment.  The heads of three agencies were supposed to testify Thursday, but one - DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf - was noticeably missing. 

Every year since the 9/11 attacks, the House Homeland Security Committee has held a hearing to gauge domestic threats facing the country.  While election security is on many minds at this time, FBI Director Christopher Wray made very clear what remains the number one threat.

"Terrorism remains the top priority although the nature of that threat has evolved significantly since 9/11," Wray said.

Specifically, the homegrown kind due to sympathizers of groups like ISIS as well as domestic terrorists is often driven by racist ideologies. So far this year, there have been 120 arrests for domestic terrorism.

"Often lone actors inspired by foreign terrorists radicalized online and motivated to attack soft targets with readily available weapons," Wray said.  

"Within the domestic terrorism bucket, racially motivated violence extremism is the biggest bucket within the larger group and within that racially motivated extremism group, people ascribing to some sort of white supremacy is the biggest chunk of that."

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Wray said there is hard evidence of the Russians attempting to influence the upcoming presidential election and agents are working overtime to find and prevent that from succeeding.

"Just recently, for example, we shared threat indicators with Facebook and Twitter that allowed them to take down fake accounts created as part of a Russia disinformation campaign before those accounts could develop a broader following," Wray said.

Cybercrimes keep authorities busy, notably China hackers seeming to always be on the attack.

"Including, I should note, companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology and treatment," Wray said.

Thursday's hearing was to also include testimony from Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, but he was a no-show causing some controversy.

"It was not until last week that the committee learned that Wolf would be reneging on his promise to testify because of his pending nomination as the secretary of homeland security," said committee Chairman Bennie Thompson.

"Friday, I issued a subpoena in accordance with house and committee rules, he defied that subpoena. That he should refuse to come before this committee after committing to do so should appall every member of this committee."

Wray called violence against law enforcement officers a major concern. He's committed to personally calling each department that loses an officer to share his personal condolences.  He says he realizes some people are hurting and for good reason, but he says law enforcement is hurting too.

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