WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice is creating a new domestic terrorism unit after they said threats have dramatically increased since 2020. The DOJ and the FBI told U.S. Senators in a committee hearing that the new unit would help how they prosecute and investigate current domestic terrorism cases. This hearing was suppose to focus on domestic terrorism in the U.S. following the January 6th Capitol attack but members on both sides of the aisle took turns blaming left and right winged groups as part of the problem.   

“The threat posed by domestic terrorism is on the rise,” said Matthew Olsen, Assistant Attorney General with the National Security Division of the DOJ.  

The DOJ and the FBI told U.S. Senators the number of domestic terrorism investigations has doubled since March 2020. The DOJ said the intelligence community believes there is an elevated threat with domestic violent extremists who will commit crimes to further their political or social goals. 

"Domestic violent extremists are motivated by a mix of ideologies and personal grievances,” said Olsen. “We’ve seen a growing threat by those who are motivated by racial animus as well as those subscribed to an extremist anti-government anti-authority ideologies.” 

Now the DOJ created a new domestic terrorism unit to combat these threats.  

“Hoping to ensure these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the DOJ and across the country,” added Olsen.  

This hearing follows the anniversary of the January 6th attack at the Capitol. Many Democrats describe that day as right-winged domestic terrorism and the committee’s democratic chair even opened this hearing with video footage from the riot. 

“When a mob of armed rioters use force in an attempt to overthrow the United States government that is domestic terrorism,” said Sen. Maize Hirono (D- HI).  

Republicans countered with their own video montage from the 2020 riots that followed the killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man. But during this hearing, Republicans and Democrats pointed the finger at each other for downplaying violent events or protests.   

“I ask all my colleagues in joining me in condemning political violence,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R- IA). “That obviously included the terrible attack on the Capitol but that also included nearly 600 riots that came before January 6 violence.” 

The DOJ and FBI already look into both domestic and international terrorism. They said this new unit will just be an extension of their domestic terrorism investigations.