Editor-In-Chief Note: DOJ Announces Creation of New Special Counsel Position for the Prosecution of Domestic Terrorism

By Jeremy Gale – On October 14, 2015, the Department of Justice announced the creation of a new position within its National Security Division devoted to assisting in the prosecution of domestic terrorism cases. The creation of a “domestic terrorism counsel” acknowledges a significant but underreported trend of violence in the country, which originates within our own borders.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that an act of domestic terrorism occurs in the United States approximately every 33 days and is generally the undertaking of a lone actor. Although the majority of media reporting focuses on the specter of attacks from Islamic jihadists, the United States Attorney’s Office identifies a number of organizations including eco-terrorists, anarchists, Black separatists, and White supremacists, not popularly thought to be active since the 1960’s and 1970’s, as responsible for the domestic acts of political extremism.

Most recently, the continuing threat of home-grown extremism was violently showcased in the attack on the Emanuel African Methodist church in Charleston, South Carolina in which nine individuals were killed during Bible study. The move comes among continuing efforts by the law enforcement community to counter violent extremism through coordination, community outreach programs like the Strong Cities Network and rehabilitation of individuals with extreme views.

In acknowledgement of this underreported topic, the National Security and Armed Conflict Law Review will be hosting its annual symposium on this topic on November 20, 2015. The complexity of litigating domestic terrorism cases, the underlying causes and possible solutions will be explored across three panels of experts with a keynote speech delivered by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok. More information on the event can be found here.

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