The Department of Homeland Security quietly dismantled the intelligence group that was responsible for catching domestic terrorists

Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesA vigil for the 11 people killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

  • The Department of Homeland Security shut down its intelligence group that studies domestic terrorism, the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday.
  • The group created reports about domestic terrorist groups and violent extremists, and helped local law enforcement handle those threats.
  • David Glawe, the DHS official who oversaw the restructuring of its intelligence unit, told INSIDER that the department is still devoted to fighting violent extremism.
  • The DHS told the Daily Beast it’s relying more on other agencies, like the FBI, to study those threats.
  • Former intelligence officials say the intelligence unit could have studied violent threats like the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and attempted bombing of Democrats and media figures.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dismantled its intelligence unit focusing on domestic terrorism a year ago and never announced it, The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday.

The group produced reports about domestic terrorists and violent extremists from within the borders of the United States. It also provided local law enforcement communities with guidance on how to handle them.

The Trump administration reportedly reassigned everyone in the group, within the DHS’s Intelligence and Analysis department, to different positions within the DHS – despite an uptick in right-wing domestic terrorism in 2017 and 2018.

Former officials told the Daily Beast that the group, were it still functioning, would have analysed the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead, the attempted bombing of Democrats and media members by a supporter of President Donald Trump, and the shooting of Republican members of congress. All of those threats were carried out by people living within the United States with extremist ideologies.

David Glawe, the head of the Intelligence and Analysis department (I&A), who oversaw the dismantling of the intelligence group, told INSIDER that the department is still devoted to “defeating all forms of radical ideology – including white supremacist and domestic terrorist.”

He said it’s sharing information with the FBI instead of duplicating work the bureau already does.

“The Office of Intelligence and Analysis has significantly increased tactical intelligence reporting on domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists since 2016,” Glawe told INSIDER. “The Office of Intelligence and Analysis coordinates with the Intelligence Community and continues to produce strategic and tactical intelligence in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who is the lead organisation for Domestic Terrorism and Civil Rights Violations.”

The move raises questions about the Trump administration’s approach to domestic terrorism

Nate Snyder, a former DHS official who oversaw department policies and studied violent extremism, said that ending the intelligence group undercuts claims by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen that the United States is taking great measures to combat extremist attacks. (Trump himself has said he doesn’t think white nationalism is a rising threat.)

“You hear the secretary and this administration say how domestic terrorism is a clear priority and how resources will be bolstered, but you can’t say that and then all of a sudden get rid of the unit that’s there to detect threats and share information with our first responders, law enforcement, and federal partners,” Snyder told the Daily Beast. “You can’t have it both ways.”

Read more:
Everything you need to know about Life After Hate – the organisation that’s partnered with Facebook to tackle white nationalist content on the platform

Glawe told INSIDER that the restructuring increased investment into cooperation with state and local authorities, and made it more centralised.

“The Office of Intelligence and Analysis also has a robust state and local engagement program, whose mission is to ensure that state and local partners can expeditiously access the capabilities, resources, and expertise necessary to share information and intelligence,” he said. “The Office of Intelligence and Analysis provides a single, reliable, and dependable touch point dedicated to supporting relationships with all of our partners in order to facilitate communications and engagement, conduct outreach, ensure transparency, and address any issues, concerns, and questions.”

This story has been updated with a comment from DHS.

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