Rep. Chip Roy explained Tuesday that perpetrators of murderous hate crimes in the United States aren’t charged with domestic terrorism because there is no such statute.
“It is true, right, there is not a United States code … domestic terrorism statute to prosecute crimes in the United States under. Correct?” the Texas Republican confirmed with Michael McGarrity, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division during the House Oversight Committee’s hearing on confronting white supremacy.
Roy’s clarification was in response to a heated exchange between McGarrity and Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over why some white mass shooters in the U.S. are not charged with domestic terrorism while other Muslim mass shooters do receive foreign terrorism charges.
“That’s why you were describing there were no charges under it. Because there was nothing to charge,” Roy confirmed further. “However, there are numerous crimes under which you can charge people who are engaged in criminal activity, and that happens all of the time, whether it’s hate crimes or other crimes, right? Engaged in criminal activity, federal, state and local, correct?“
Minutes earlier, Ocasio-Cortez failed to understand that hate crimes such as the Emanuel AME church shooting and the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting were considered instances of domestic terrorism by the FBI, but were not charged as such because the Congress did not provide a domestic terrorism statue. Instead, the FBI charges any relevant crimes and follows up with hate crime charges if permitted.
Not understanding McGarrity’s explanation, Ocasio-Cortez questioned if the difference in charges was due Muslims being considered foreign under the U.S. penal code.
“So, because the perpetrator was Muslim they’re — doesn’t it seem that because the perpetrator is Muslim that the designation would say it’s a foreign organization?” Ocasio-Cortez asked McGarrity, specifically regarding the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shooting and the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
“No, that is not correct, that is not correct,” McGarrity responded, noting that the law does not differentiate between the religions of homegrown violent extremists. However, the FBI would classify individuals who are radicalized by the global Jihad as foreign terrorists, as was the case with the San Bernardino shooting.
“Could you see how one could see how the way that we are pursing and charging white supremacy, particularly if they tend to be charged with hate crimes, and where that same type of violence committed by a Muslim extremist could be charged with domestic terrorism?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“Some of the definitions I think we’re using, we’re talking past each other,” McGarrity replied.
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