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Tag: domestic terrorism

FBI Agent: Driver Won’t Be Charged with Domestic Terrorism in Death of Protester

James Fields is accused of driving into a group of anti-racists, killing one person and injuring many more.

James Fields is accused of driving into a group of anti-racists, killing one person and injuring many more.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent said the Ohio man who plowed into protesters in Charlottesville, Va., will not face domestic terrorism charges because federal law does not outline penalties.

Special Agent Thomas F. O’Connor made the statement in an op-ed piece published Thursday by the Hill, saying Congress should change the statute to give it some teeth.

“Congress should amend the U.S. Code to make domestic terrorism a crime subject to specific penalties that apply irrespective of the weapon or target involved in the crime,” O’Connor wrote. “Specifically, this legislation should make it a crime for a person to commit, attempt, or conspire to commit an act of violence intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence government policy or conduct.” 

O’Connor was not speaking on behalf of the investigation of James Alex Fields Jr., who faces life in prison on a state charge of second-degree murder. Police said he intentionally plowed into protesters during an anti-racism rally on Aug. 12, killing 32-year-old Heather D. Heyer.

FBI: Man Tried to Detonate Bomb in Oklahoma City, But It Was Fake

Bombing suspect Jerry Drake Varnell

Bombing suspect Jerry Drake Varnell

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a 23-year-old Oklahoma man after the FBI said he tried to detonate what he thought was a vehicle bomb targeting a bank in Oklahoma City.

Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested Saturday morning in Oklahoma City following a long-term FBI investigation into domestic terrorism, the Justice Department announced Monday.

The FBI was tipped off that Varnell hated the federal government and originally wanted to bow up a building in Washington D.C.

An uncover FBI agent was in contact with Varnell via encrypted texts and Facebook messages and offered to help him assemble a bomb in downtown Oklahoma City.

Feds said Varnell was arrested after he parked a van with what he thought was an explosive device near BancFirst and dialed a number on his cell phone to detonate the “bomb,” which was inert and couldn’t explode.

Trump Warned Months Ago of White Supremacist Violence ‘Over the Next Year’

FBI file photo of KKK items.

FBI file photo of KKK items.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security warned President Trump’s administration as recently as May about the potential for violence by white supremacists and other ultra-conservative groups.

The intelligence bulletin, entitled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence, warned of “lethal violence over the next year,” according to Foreign Policy, which obtained a copy. 

“We assess lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year,” the bulletin reads.

The bulletin also indicates that white supremacists are responsible for the marjory of domestic terrorism.

They  “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016…more than any other domestic extremist movement,” the document states.

FBI Raids Home of Driver Who Slammed into Anti-Racist Protesters

Suspect James Fields

Suspect James Fields

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided the home of the white supremacist charged with driving his car into a crowd of anti-racists protesters in Charlottesville, Va., killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others.

FBI agents searched the Oak Hill Apartments complex, where James Alex Fields Jr.’s lives in a one-bedroom flat about 19 mile southwest of Toledo.

The FBI also interviewed Fields’ mother, the Toledo Blade reports

The FBI told Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp that the bureau was “take the lead in this,” he told the Blade. “They contacted me to let me know they were in the area, that they were going to talk to the mother, which they already have. What the conversation was, I don’t know.”

The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation after Fields was charged with second-degree murder.

AG Sessions: Car Attack in Charlottesville ‘Does Meet the Definition of Domestic Terrorism’

Suspect James Alex Fields

Suspect James Alex Fields

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this morning that an Ohio driver who plunged into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism.”

The driver, 20-year-old James Fields, killed one person and injured 19 others.

“It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute,” Sessions said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” today. “We are pursuing it in the (Justice Department) in every way that we can make a case.”

Sessions said the driver could be charged with more serious, federal charges.

“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable evil attack,” he said. “Terrorism investigators from the FBI are working on the case as well as civil rights division FBI agents.”

The car slammed into a group of people protesting white supremacists who turned up in droves to protest the planned removal of a statue of a Confederate general.

Ex-FBI Agent: Charging Portland Suspect with Hate Crimes Is ‘Sticky’

Jeremy Christian

Jeremy Christian

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine whether federal charges are warranted in the case of the 35-year-old man who stabbed three people on a Portland train after yelling expletives at two women he believed to be Muslims.

Jeremy Christian has already been charged with aggravated murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a handgun.

But feds are investigating whether Christian also committed hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

“It will take some time for a review of information and evidence along with consultation with prosecutors to determine whether federal charges will be filed,” Beth Anne Steele, a spokeswoman for the FBI told KATU News.

But a retired FBI agent told KATU those charges may be difficult to prove.

“Hating someone is not a crime,” Greg Vecchi, a retired FBI agent with 29 years of federal investigative experience said.

“You can hate someone, a Christian, a Muslim. You can hate someone who’s black, someone who’s white,” Vecchi said. “That by itself does not trigger the hate crime. What triggers it is taking it a step further and being able to prove that because of that bias that was a motivation or part of a motivation to carry out the crime. … This is where it becomes sticky.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Spoke with Bombing Suspect Rahami While He Was Recovering from Gunshot Wounds

Ahmad Khan Rahami

Ahmad Khan Rahami

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI spoke for days with the man charged with setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey.

The conversation occurred while he was recovering from gunshot wounds after he was arrested, the Associated Press reports. 

The revelation was made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin after Ahmad Khan Rahami pleaded not guilty to crimes involving the Sept. 17 attacks, which injured 30 people in Manhattan.

What Rahami said to the FBI was not disclosed.

Prosecutors plan to soon disclose more evidence, including videos of Rahami’s movements on the day of the bombings, records that indicate he purchased bomb-making materials, and fingerprints and DNA found on the explosive devices.

New South Florida FBI Chief Says Terrorism is Biggest Threat, Priority

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even in Florida, terrorism is the FBI’s top concern.

So said south Florida’s new special agent in charge, George Piro, 46.

“Our biggest threat domestically is homegrown, violent extremists, and it’s no different here in South Florida,” Piro said, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Piro said terrorism remains the FBI’s No. 1 priority.

Piro is known for “the guy that interrogated Saddam.” But he hopes to become known for more than that.

“Being an FBI agent is actually more rewarding, or has more meaning for me, than just interrogating Saddam Hussein,” Piro said.