The report also said that the ISIS threat had “evolved” after its caliphate fell.
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The threat of racially or ethnically motivated terrorism, especially white supremacist terrorism, is “on the rise and spreading geographically,” according to a new State Department report, as the threat from ISIS and other radical Islamist terrorist groups evolves.
The annual report, released Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, details by country and terrorist organization the threats emanating from around the world.
While 2019 saw some important achievements in the fight against terrorism, according to Pompeo, such as the assassination of the founding leader of ISIS and the fall of his caliphate, the threat of terrorism has been transformed and expanded to new regions, especially the Sahel in the north of Africa.
This year’s report focused even more on white-supremacy terrorism, just weeks after the department designated a white-supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization for the first time. In 2019, there were several high-profile attacks motivated by ideology, including the shooting at the Christchurch mosque, New Zealand, in March; El Paso, Texas, shooting in August; and the shooting in the Halle synagogue, Germany, in October.
This type of “violence” is on the rise and is spreading geographically, as white natmacist and supremacist movements and individuals increasingly target immigrants; Jewish, Muslim and other religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and / or intersex (LGBTI) individuals, governments and other perceived enemies, “the report said.
According to the U.S. Ambassador-General to Combat Terrorism Nathan Sales, that threat has expanded since 2015, but praised the Trump administration for taking it on.
“It took this administration to come to power to really prioritize stepping up efforts against this threat here in the case of the FBI and DHS, but also abroad where this department comes into play,” Sales said.
In April, the State Department designated the Russian Imperial Movement, a white supremacist group, as a “foreign terrorist organization” for the first time, preventing American individuals from supporting the group.
While that action was unprecedented, President Donald Trump has also downplayed the threat from white supremacist groups, telling reporters last year: “It is a small group of people who have very, very serious problems.”
The State Department also announced on Wednesday that it would increase its reward for information leading to the new ISIS leader, Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, also known as Abu Muslim al-Turkmani. The United States government will now provide up to $ 10 million for details leading to his whereabouts, Pompeo announced, adding: “We are not discouraged in our quest to bring terrorists to justice.”
Although the ISIS caliphate fell and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was assassinated in 2019, the terrorist group’s threat has “evolved”, according to Sales, now calling it “a global network that reaches all inhabited continents” and continues to drive e inspire attacks.
That includes Iraq and Syria, once home to the ISIS caliphate, where Sales said: “We have to keep an eye on the ball … to prevent the remains of ISIS from being reconstituted, to prevent the attacks from continuing.”