Walker Opening Statement at Joint Hearing on Nationalist Terrorism

WASHINGTON — Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Intelligence and Counterterrorism subcommittee ranking member, today delivered the following opening statement at a joint hearing with the House Foreign Affairs Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism Subcommittee.

This week marks 56 years since of the vicious murders of Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Morris Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carole Denise McNair at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Over a half a century later, we are still dealing with hatred, racism and violence.  There is no doubt that we must do more to counter these threats.  The unfortunate reality is that no city in the United States is immune. 

On August 3rd, the country was horrified by a domestic terror attack at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas where the killer was directly targeting immigrants and killed 22 innocent people and wounding 24 more.  The very next day, a young man obsessed with violence and reportedly fueled by drugs carried out a deadly attack on a public street in Dayton, Ohio, killing 9 people and wounding 27 others.   Several other attacks were reportedly disrupted through good police work and alert family members reporting concerns.

We must not forget the other domestic terror attacks over the past few years targeting racial and religious groups, including the Tree of Life synagogue, the Chabad of Poway synagogue, and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

In June, we passed the three-year anniversary of the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida attack and December will be four years since the San Bernardino attack. 

Also this past June, at least 11 people were injured during an Antifa rally in Portland, Oregon, and, the next month, an adherent to the same ideology targeted a Department of Homeland Security facility in Washington State.   

The broad range of ideologically-based hatred and societal obsession with violence has left scars across the country.  I fully support an open, bipartisan discussion about the domestic terrorism, hateful ideologies, and recommendations for addressing these threats.

I am concerned about reports of global interconnectedness of U.S.-based domestic extremists and those overseas who share the same views. The far-reaching ability of jihadists to inspire and radicalize from their overseas safe havens has resulted in several hundred Americans going overseas to join their ranks or seek to carry out attack in the homeland.   Are we seeing the same trends develop with domestic extremists?  While current data is not showing the same threat level, there are dangerous similarities between jihadist propaganda and the “manifestos” posted by domestic extremists.  I think it is important to hear from the Intelligence Community and Federal law enforcement to get a full picture of the threat stream. 

Before closing, I do want to raise a concern that today’s hearing was scheduled with very little advanced notice to the Minority side.  That is not how the Committee on Homeland Security has worked in the past, especially this Subcommittee, and I hope this is an anomaly and going forward the Majority will work in good faith to provide more notice particularly on hearings and roundtables related to threats to the homeland.

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