FBI's Wray Says 'Antifa Is a Real Thing' As He Confirms Several Investigations
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For years, even during the Trump administration, Americans have regularly heard leading federal law enforcement figures blame domestic violence on ‘right-wing’ groups of ‘white supremacists.’
And while there are, of course, ‘right-wing white supremacists,’ there are also several left-wing groups that have been responsible for violence as well. In fact, individuals who align with those movements have also been described as domestic terrorists.
But we haven’t heard federal law enforcers talk much about those groups, movements, and individuals. Until now.
During testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray was clear that one such leftist-anarchist group, Antifa,’ “is a real thing” and that the bureau and federal law enforcement are currently investigating people believed to be associated with the “movement.”
“Antifa is a real thing. It’s not a group or an organization. It’s a movement, or an ideology may be one way of thinking of it,” Wray said. “And we have quite a number—and I’ve said this quite consistently since my first time appearing before this committee—we have any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists and some of those individuals self-identify with Antifa.”
He also said that FBI intelligence indicates that Antifa does have “small groups,” or “nodes," adding that the bureau is currently “actively investigating the potential for violence” from these “regional nodes."
“Antifa is a real thing. It’s not a fiction,” Wray again said. “But it’s not an organization or a structure.”
One of the committee members -- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) -- said last month on the street in D.C. that Antifa was "a myth," in a true-blue LOL moment.
At another point during testimony, Wray said the biggest threat facing the U.S. in terms of internal security is the lone whack job who plots to attack a poorly defended asset.
“We assess that the greatest threat to the homeland, to us here domestically, is not one organization, certainly not one ideology, but rather lone actors largely self-radicalized online who pursue soft targets using readily accessible weapons,” Wray said. “Those include both domestic violent extremists of a variety of sorts, as well as homegrown violent extremists who are motivated by foreign jihadist type sources.”
Lone actors are harder to spot and stop, Wray continued.
“These people—both categories, the domestic violent extremists and the homegrown violent extremists—they don’t have a lot of people they’re working with,” Wray said, adding, “they don’t take a lot of planning and preparation, they can go from radicalization to mobilization in weeks if not days.”
“The time, as experts say, from flash to bang, is that much more daunting” with respect to lone actors, he said.
Asked by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) if the left or right poses a bigger threat to the U.S., Wray said the bureau doesn't look at them that way.
“We don’t really think of threats in terms of left and right at the FBI. We’re focused on the violence, not the ideology,” he said, adding that domestic violent extremists include “everything from racially-motivated violent extremists” to “anti-government, anti-authority extremism, and that includes people ranging from anarchist violent extremists—people who subscribe to Antifa or other ideologies, as well as militia types.”