(CNSNews.com) – Welcoming news that the Department of Homeland Security is circulating an intelligence assessment on the threat posed by “right-wing sovereign citizen extremist groups,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it’s now time for security agencies to release a report on violence against American Muslims and others of Middle Eastern or South Asian heritage.
The DHS report – which has not been publicly released – was leaked to CNN at a time when some U.S. Islamic groups are questioning the administration’s “countering violent extremism” (CVE) initiative. Some of those critics, who have called for a greater focus on non-Islam-related terror threats, declined to attend last week’s White House CVE summit as a result.
“We welcome this new intelligence assessment on the threat posed by domestic right-wing violent extremists,” CAIR said in a statement, citing a CNN news story on the subject.
“It is the government’s responsibility to address all forms of violent extremism – regardless of ideology – and in proportion to the criminal threat posed by those groups.”
“We now call on the DHS and FBI to release an intelligence assessment addressing the spike in hate crimes targeting Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, Sikh, Hindu, and South Asian communities throughout the United States,” CAIR said.
“Without an awareness of the threat posed by all forms of violent extremism, our national security will remain at risk.”
In a brief earlier this month outlining its concerns about the administration’s CVE programs, CAIR noted that the government had not launched an equivalent program after two men allegedly linked to the sovereign citizen movement were accused of with the 2012 murder of two Louisiana deputy sheriffs. (The accused are facing capital murder charges.)
“The absence of nationally-announced government CVE programs targeting violence emanating from white supremacist or anti-government groups results in the false insinuation that American Muslims are not fully invested in honoring our religious and civic duty to our nation,” the CAIR brief stated.
Another lobby group, Muslim Advocates, also expressing its concern about the CVE initiative, claimed that it focused on Muslims and ignored “the roughly 95% of other threats of extremist violence.”
Muslim Advocates cited a 10 year-old FBI report listing incidents of domestic terror violence between 1980 and 2005, only some six percent of which were attributable to Muslims.
(As CNSNews.com reported earlier, that same FBI reported showed that 93 percent of fatalities in the attacks listed from 1980-2005 were victims of Islamic terrorism.)
In contrast to the criticism from Islamic groups, during last week’s CVE summit some conservatives felt the administration was playing down the Islamic element to the terrorism challenge.
The CNN report on the threat posed by so-called “sovereign citizens” – Americans opposed to all federal government authority and prepared to break the law in resisting it – quoted Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division.
“We’ve been talking about the international terrorism threat, but there’s also domestic groups that are just as concerning, that we worry about here in the United States,” Steinbach said.
In a survey last year of U.S. law enforcement officials, conducted by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START), respondents placed sovereign citizens at the top of a list of potential threats in 2013-14, with “Islamic extremists/jihadists” in second place.
By contrast, START said, in 2006-2007 Islamic extremists topped the list, with neo-Nazi groups at number two and sovereign citizens down in seventh place.