Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy explained Tuesday that perpetrators of murderous hate crimes in the United States aren’t charged with domestic terror because there is no such statute.
“It is true, right, that there is not a United States code … domestic terrorism statute to prosecute crimes in the United States under. Correct?” Roy 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 Democrat 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 are indicted on foreign terrorism charges.
“That’s why you were describing, there were no charges under it. Because there was nothing to charge,” Roy further confirmed.
“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 in South Carolina and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting were considered instances of domestic terrorism by the FBI, but the alleged perpetrators were not charged as domestic terrorists because there is no 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 to Muslims being considered foreign under the U.S. penal code.
“So, because the perpetrator was Muslim they’re — doesn’t it seem like 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 and Pulse nightclub shootings.
“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 and Pulse shooters.
“Could you see how this could create issues and discrepancies between how violent extremism by Muslim perpetrators could potentially, even if it’s unintentional … but could you see how one could see how the way that we are pursuing 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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