Five short years ago, the threat landscape looked very different. Informed by decades of tragic incidents and mountains of valuable intel, federal authorities were predominantly focused on identifying and thwarting lone wolves operating in allegiance to Islamist terror groups.
But things have changed.
In his August 2022 testimony before Congress, F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray called out the Bureau’s new principal focus in no uncertain terms. “The greatest terrorism threat to our homeland is posed by lone actors or small cells of individuals who typically radicalize to violence online,” said Wray. “We see these threats manifested within both Domestic Violent Extremists (DVE) and Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVE)…located primarily in the United States.”
Wray went on to assert that among these domestic terror threats a specific and growing subset of DVEs has gained even greater priority: Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (REMVE). Since 2001, REMVEs have proven to be the most lethal threat within the DVE movement. Motivated by a belief in the superiority of the white race, REMVEs chiefly target religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, places of worship, and law enforcement as they perceive these targets to be in opposition to their goals and a threat to the white race.
Domestic Terror Hits Jacksonville
The August 26 shooting at a Jacksonville, Florida Dollar General is just the latest example.
First spotted casing Edward Waters University, a historically Black university, Christopher Palmeter was observed by students donning tactical gear emblazoned with swastikas. After being notified of suspicious activity, university security pursued the shooter until he left campus, then contacted Jacksonville police. After briefly stopping at a nearby Family Dollar, he relocated again, eventually opening fire the local Dollar General, killing three.
Concepts that Lead to Casualties
Details are still emerging as the investigation continues, and while there is some debate over the shooter’s primary target, there appears to be no doubt about his intention: FBI Director Christopher Wray and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office emphatically agree that the incident was a racially motivated hate crime.
This tragic event underscores the persistent threat posed by REMVE accelerationists, and their desire to impose radical ideology to hasten the collapse of society as we know it. As was the case in Jacksonville, extremists who gather in dark corners of the internet are largely motivated by propaganda, glorify high-profile incidents, and seek to emulate “successful” perpetrators in copycat fashion. The frightening reality? Would-be shooters have easy access to a sinister blueprint.
“After 9/11, our nation came together and brought the resources and capabilities necessary to diminish the threat of transnational terrorism,” says TPOP Co-Founder and senior federal security veteran William Flynn. “The same whole of government approach is needed to focus on the evolving and illusive threat of domestic terrorism.”
Assessing Risk and Addressing Security
Even with an expressed focus from federal authorities, taking on the threat of domestic terrorism will require enhanced security measures—especially for those at higher risk. Whether it’s a dollar store in Jacksonville, a Black church in Charleston, an LGBTQ club in Orlando, or a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, understanding risk related to demographics and location is vital. Federal officials have offered guidance emphasizing the need for vigilant security practices in vulnerable communities, and those who might find themselves in the crosshairs should take advantage.
The threat of violent domestic extremism isn’t going away. The time to act is now.
With expertise including Run-Hide-Fight, situational awareness, active shooter training, conflict avoidance and verbal de-escalation, The Power of Preparedness provides critical guidance that can save lives. Contact us to learn more.