The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines domestic terrorism as violence perpetrated by groups with “extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”
Antifa meets that definition. The group consists of American citizens radicalized by left-wing ideology who carry out threats of violence. It’s high time to classify Antifa as a domestic terror organization.
Over the weekend, the group exploded in rage once again in Portland, Oregon. Antifa members injured several people, including an elderly man. Journalist Andy Ngo, who was covering the event, went to the hospital for a head injury and brain bleeding.
To date, federal officials have not classified Antifa a domestic terror group despite endless photographs, eyewitness accounts and video evidence supporting the designation.
During a protest of conservative speaker Ben Shapiro last year on the University of California’s Berkeley campus, Antifa members reportedly destroyed campus property, set fire to trash cans, beat up college Republicans and forced students to shelter in place. (Campus police stood by doing nothing.) The school settled the case, paying organizers nearly $100,000.
It’s difficult to understand why the group hasn’t received a terror designation.
President Trump has said that the gang MS-13 could be called a domestic terror organization for their activity in the country to harm citizens and traffic drugs. In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “We’re not going to allow them to take over a block, or a corner of our communities, and terrorize people with this violence.”
Antifa, unlike MS-13, does have a stated political philosophy, and directs its violence specifically at Republicans.
In 2001, the left-wing environmental group Earth Liberation Front was designated a domestic terror organization. The group claimed credit for setting fire to new condominiums in San Diego in 2003, because it opposed new construction. They scrawled the initials “ELF” on the walls before they set fire to the units.
The left-wing terror group also torched SUVs at car dealerships in Southern California and burned down what they called “McMansions,” or large homes, in states including Washington. Unlike Antifa’s actions in Portland, no one was actually injured in ELF’s fires.
The Weather Underground is another group classified as a domestic terror organization. Like Antifa, the cabal of violent youth sought to effect political change with thuggery. But unlike Antifa, the Weather Underground never seriously injured anyone. They planted a couple dozen bombs to impact law enforcement and elected leaders, but no one was ever hit by a bomb in the way that Antifa hit Ngo. It seems that Antifa ought to at least enjoy parity with the Weather Underground.
Another FBI-designated terror group, Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion (FALN), was responsible for terrorizing New Yorkers in a political effort to gain independence for Puerto Rico. The 1970s militant group held Marxist-Leninist political views and sought to turn Puerto Rico into a communist province. The group took credit for bombings that killed four people. In 1999, as one of his final acts in office, President Clinton granted clemency to 16 of the terror group’s members.
If a domestic terror designation was enough for these groups — some of which never injured anyone — Antifa ought to get the classification. Antifa has injured people at their protests and events.
“Antifa is an organization that actively promotes and engages in violence, and its members have been allowed to continually attack and injure scores of people for political purposes. That is the very definition of terrorism,” said Lt. Randy Sutton (ret.), a 33-year police veteran and founder of The Wounded Blue organization. “It is time to treat them as what they are: a domestic terror organization.”
As the old saying goes, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Anyone who understands political protests — from the Occupy Wall Street movement on the left to the Tea Party movement on the right — understands that organizing does not occur without significant funding. To that end, someone is providing cash flow to a terroristic organization.
With a domestic terror designation, federal authorities could investigate who funds Antifa’s violent crime. They could also choke off that funding.
Until authorities call Antifa what it is — radical and violent — the terrorism will continue. In fact, a new Fox News poll showed that political tensions in the U.S. have already reached Election Day levels. With 15 months to go before the 2020 election, tensions will no doubt get worse.
The only question is how many people Antifa will kill or send to the hospital before the feds take action.
Mr. President, call for the designation before it’s too late.
Jen Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party; spokeswoman for California’s Proposition 8, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and as a Fox News writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.