Rogers Opening Statement at Domestic Terrorism Hearing
WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, today delivered an opening statement at a hearing on domestic terrorism.
I condemn all acts of violence. I condemn all acts of violence done in the name of disturbed political, racial, or religious ideologies.
I know every Member on this Committee agrees with me. To imply otherwise is inappropriate.
Today’s hearing is important. We must use this opportunity to have a meaningful discussion and learn how we as Congress can help root out evil in our society.
I sincerely hope this hearing isn’t used for political grandstanding; a YouTube clip won’t solve these problems. But a serious discussion with serious people can help inform how Congress and this Committee can act.
As Members of this Committee know, acts of domestic terrorism are not a new phenomenon. Throughout our history, deeply disturbed individuals have resorted to violence to avenge real or imagined grievances.
What has changed is that almost twenty years ago, terrorists hijacked 4 planes and murdered nearly 3,000 Americans.
Since then, Americans have awoken to the threat of foreign terror organizations, but have not fully understood the influence they have on our society.
Bad actors in our country have adopted strategies from foreign terror organizations. Terrorists at home are learning from terrorists abroad.
The pervasiveness of the Internet and social media has made connecting extremists fast, free, and anonymous. Movements preaching violence have found new homes and broader audiences online.
The same tools that allow us to communicate globally are allowing networks of radicals to connect once isolated fringe groups.
The recent wave of attacks targeting religious institutions was inspired and amplified by social media and fringe websites.
Fringe websites have become havens for the most abhorrent behavior in our societies.
A quick search yields hundreds of results for the most disgusting and hateful ideologies ever written.
Those searches lead to communities built around hate, conspiracy theories, and, most worryingly, images of graphic murder and suicide.
They are not Facebook or Twitter.
These fringe sites house videos of terrorist propaganda, shooter manifestos, and gory content alongside fresh calls for violence.
Many posts are dares to commit violence or suicide.
Others respond with ideas of how to carry out violence.
This image, which we have edited to avoid promoting the killers, was recently shared in response to a post about a terrorist attack.
It lists the attacker’s alleged ideology, photo, and name.
The list then awards points to mass shooters, terrorists, and murderers.
Points are provided for each person killed, a killer’s mental status, killing cops, and if the attacker killed himself.
These images and their vile call to action create a vortex of despair and viciousness.
This sinister force is clearly capturing the minds of troubled people at a greater rate than ever before.
There is not a single sure-fire way to stop violence before it occurs. But there are steps we can take to reduce future violence.
Working with industry and law enforcement, we must build a comprehensive strategy to detect, monitor, and disrupt online fronts for terror and violence.
We must expand outreach to communities and educate them about the radicalization process and find ways to help troubled individuals early enough to stop attacks.
We must continue to encourage individuals to say something to law enforcement if they see or hear something suspicious.
Finally, we must encourage state and local law enforcement to continue their participation in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Taskforce program and state and local Fusion Centers.
Both initiatives bring state and local law enforcement together with federal law enforcement to share intelligence and leverage authorities to counter threats, including domestic terrorism.
Now is not the time for cities to withdraw from these programs to score petty political points.
I look forward to working with the Chairman and our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee on ways to end the scourge of domestic terrorism.
Contact: Nicole Hager