The United States is facing far more domestic terror threats than those from international parties, according to the FBI.
Timothy Langan, assistant director of the bureau’s Counterterrorism Division, told lawmakers Wednesday that the U.S. is approaching more than 2,700 domestic terrorism threats.
The number of international terror threats is under 1,000, Langan said when asked by Representative Nancy Mace to provide data on the FBI’s caseload.
Langan also gave statistics on terrorism-related deaths in the U.S. from 2015 to 2020. There were 80 reported international terrorism–related deaths in that five-year period, compared with 83 deaths linked to domestic terrorism.
Langan was joined on Capitol Hill by officials from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security in fielding questions from lawmakers on the Biden administration’s counterterrorism strategy.
“Preventing acts of terrorism is the FBI’s number one priority,” Langan said during his opening statement. He also noted that the “greatest terrorism threat” is posed by lone actors or small cells radicalized online looking to attack “soft targets with easily accessible weapons.”
Langan’s testimony follows FBI Director Christopher Wray’s statements to Congress earlier this month, when he said the number of domestic terrorism cases has “exploded” in the past year and a half.
A recent Associated Press poll found that more Americans are concerned about threats from extremist groups based in the United States as opposed to those from other countries. Sixty-five percent of U.S. adults reported being “extremely” or “very” concerned about the threat to the country from domestic groups, compared with 50 percent who felt the same about foreign extremist groups.
Amid the rise in homegrown terrorist threats, President Joe Biden directed his national security team to conduct a 100-day review of the federal government’s efforts to address the matter.
The review led to the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, released in June. The plan seeks $100 million to add key staff in the Justice and Homeland Security departments to thwart domestic terrorism threats.
The strategy calls for improving information sharing among law enforcement agencies, preventing individuals from becoming radicalized and addressing the root causes driving domestic terrorism.
It will also require multiple agencies, including the Department of Defense, to pursue efforts to ensure domestic terrorists are not employed in the military or become members of law enforcement. The federal government will improve employee screening to identify domestic terrorists who “might pose insider threats.”
John Cohen, Homeland Security’s coordinator for counterterrorism, said Wednesday that the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism is offering for the first time a “comprehensive, whole government approach to combating that threat.”
“In implementing this strategy, we will remain focused on reducing the threat of violence,” Cohen said in a written statement. “We must make it harder to carry out an attack and reduce the potential for loss of life by preventing radicalization and mobilization to violence.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but didn’t receive a response before publication.