Financial institutions

Domestic extremists a ‘challenge’ to financial institutions, says US Treasury

Domestic extremists pose a “challenge” to financial institutions, the US Treasury Department has warned in a new report analyzing their sources of funding alongside those of foreign terrorists.

Because so-called domestic violent extremists generally engage in normal transactional activity and often use legal methods of fundraising, they can be difficult for authorities to detect, the Treasury said Tuesday in an investigation into illicit financial threats.

Tuesday’s report marked the first time the Treasury analyzed the funding methods used by domestic extremists.

A relatively new priority area for the government, domestic violent extremists, or DVEs, are American extremists motivated by national concerns, including racial hatred and anti-government animosity. Under the Treasury’s new classification system, they differ from homegrown extremists, who are defined as individuals based in the United States but primarily inspired by global jihadism.

“The growing threat posed by DVEs has led to an increasing focus on (and reports of) financial activity associated with unlawful acts of force or violence,” the Treasury said.

Although many domestic extremists fund their own activity, Treasury said, the department has also called out crowdfunding platforms as a source of income for extremists. Amid the pandemic, these payment systems have become “a necessity rather than a convenience,” the department said.

The Treasury Department cited The Base, a white supremacist group considered a terrorist organization by Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, as an example of a violent group that had come to its attention. Several rank and file members pleaded guilty to firearms and U.S. immigration charges, and prosecutors allege those members hoped the bloodshed could galvanize a civil war.

The Treasury, which intends to publish a national strategy to combat the financing of terrorism in the coming weeks, said that it did not include in its risk assessment people engaged only in activities protected by the first amendment.

The prospect of governments using financial tools against domestic agitators has drawn increased attention after Canada last month invoked never-before-used emergency powers and ordered financial institutions to freeze the accounts of anti-Covid protesters. -19 which had blocked the capital of the country and certain borders. crossings. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has since revoked his government’s use of those powers.

Some US financial service providers have independently isolated some members of right-wing groups, including the Proud Boys, following violent protests, particularly after the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

A year after pro-Trump rioters attacked the US Capitol, lawmakers and Americans remain divided over what happened on January 6, 2021 and who is to blame. WSJ reporters look at changes in Congress since then and what it could mean for the 2022 midterm elections. Photos: Getty Images

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