The FBI believes that local white extremists and ISIS militants pose similar threats to the United States.

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source: reuters.com

The FBI believes that local white extremists and ISIS militants pose similar threats to the United States.

This was confirmed by Timothy Langan and other directors of the organization during a hearing in Congress. They added that, in the last 18 months, there was a significant increase in the threat from domestic extremists.

Security officials told Congress Wednesday that U.S. law enforcement and security agencies believe local extremists, especially white supremacists, pose a violent threat to the country, like Islamic State militants.

Concern for racially motivated domestic extremists has led the FBI to raise the threat to a level equal to that posed by Islamist militants, said Timothy Langan, the deputy director who heads the counterintelligence division.

Langan told a House Intelligence subcommittee that the FBI had detected a significant increase in the threat of violence from domestic extremists in the past 18 months.

He added that the office was conducting about 2,700 investigations related to violent domestic extremism. There had been 18 deadly attacks targeting religious institutions in the United States, of which 70 people had died in recent years.

The FBI has reached out to tech companies about their role in fomenting extremism, has succeeded in thwarting planned acts of violence, and will continue to "try to bridge the gap" on their inability to crack mobile phones ciphers legally.

John Cohen, Acting Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis for the Department of Homeland Security, told the subcommittee that racial superiority and "hatred of immigrants" are the main threats.

His department believes the most significant domestic threat is lone criminals and small groups indoctrinated in extremist ideology. In addition, the danger is fueled by a mix of extremist beliefs and personal grievances, he said.

Cohen noted that domestic extremists hold so much open debate on social media that covert gathering of information about the threats they pose is often not necessary to detect them.

Some Republican members of the House subcommittee suggested that the spy agency should not collect information on US political activity unless connected to foreign actors.

Last month, US President Joe Biden on Thursday accused Republicans aligned with Donald Trump of being white supremacists and launching "a relentless attack" on electoral freedom.

The indictment was part of a searing speech during the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the monument to Martin Luther King - the African-American civil rights hero assassinated in 1968 - on Washington's National Mall.