The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reportedly introduced a new category of extremists to monitor and counteract: followers of former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) movement. This move comes as part of the FBI’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism and avoid a recurrence of the events of January 6, 2021, when the U.S. Capitol was stormed.
According to Newsweek, the majority of the FBI’s current “anti-government” investigations are centered on Trump supporters. The threat presented by domestic violent extremists, particularly those who are anti-government or anti-authority, is now one of the bureau’s main priorities.
Data from the FBI indicates a substantial rise in open cases, investigations, and arrests related to domestic terrorism in recent years. In 2021, the number of investigations nearly doubled compared to 2020, with a significant focus on Trump supporters and individuals suspected of breaking anti-riot laws.
The U.S. government defines domestic terrorism as acts that endanger human life, violate criminal laws, and appear designed to intimidate or coerce the civilian population, or influence government policy. The FBI’s concentration on Trump supporters has sparked allegations of the bureau being used as a political instrument by the Biden administration, and of suppressing Republican voters.
As the 2024 election nears, experts predict increased pressure to prevent illegal activities, a task that may require the infiltration of political circles and other contentious government actions. The Department of Justice has employed various criminal statutes to prosecute individuals involved in domestic violent extremism. These include charges related to firearms, arson, riots, attacks on federal officers, and trespassing on government facilities.
A senior intelligence official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence expressed concerns over President Biden’s rhetoric on domestic terrorism. The official suggested that such language could provoke his opponents, especially those who have lost faith in elections or believe the system is rigged against them, to take more drastic measures.