A demonstrator is seen holding a sign at a rally held in solidarity with anti-fascist demonstrators in Berkley, California. (Albin Lohr-Jones/AP)
By Mark Swanson | Friday, 01 Sep 2017 08:42 AM
The Department of Homeland Security in 2016 formally classified the actions of the anarchist group Antifa as “domestic terrorist violence.”
Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials of Antifa’s increasingly dangerous tactics — including attacks on the police — since early 2016 but were widely ignored long before Charlottesville and while Barack Obama was still president, Politico reported.
Further, DHS and the FBI were worried that Antifa might resort to terrorist bombings at one or both of the political conventions last summer, Politico reported.
Though it reportedly exists without a leader or official chain of command, Antifa members are connected and operate much like terrorist cells do, and in April of 2016, a joint report by the FBI and DHS members spend weeks planning for violence at selected events, Politico reported.
And the escalation had been on the feds’ radar long before the rest of the country — including the media — caught up.
“Both the racists and a segment of violent Antifa counter-protestors are amped for battle in an escalating arms race, where police departments are outmaneuvered, resulting in increasingly violent dangerous confrontations,” former New York City police officer Brian Levin, who has been monitoring domestic militants for 31 years, told Politico. “It’s an orchestrated dance. The rallies spill over into social media and then even more people show up at the next rally primed for violent confrontation.”
Also in that April 2016 report, the FBI and DHS warned that Antifa would get more violent if “fascist, nationalist, racist or anti-immigrant parties obtain greater prominence or local political power in the United States, leading to anti-racist violent backlash from anarchist extremists,” Politico reported.
Further, Politico reports that some of the Antifa terrorists traveled to Turkey to train with kindred organizations, including two fighting against ISIS.
A new petition calling on the Trump administration to formally recognize the so-called antifa as a “terrorist organization” has generated nearly 300,000 signatures in a week — well beyond the threshold that is supposed to trigger a formal response from the White House. But there’s been no indication under President Trump that it will.
The petition, created by last week in the wake of the violent clashes between white supremacists and antifascists in Charlottesville, Va., argues that the group’s tactics are akin to ISIS:
Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims”. This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations. AntiFa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States. It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.
At a campaign rally in Phoenix earlier this week, Trump himself referred to the masked antifascist protesters by name.
“You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything,” the president told the crowd. “Antifa!”
“The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” Paul Shawcross, a White House science and technology adviser, replied in a statement. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
But the Trump administration has yet to respond to any of the 10 other petitions that have crossed the 100,000 threshold.
Another petition, also launched on Inauguration Day, demands that Trump “divest his financial and business holdings or have them administered by a truly blind trust.” That one has 350,000 signatures. A petition urging the administration to preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities received more than 200,000 signatures.
It’s Going Down, a website that bills itself as “a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements,” called the idea of labeling antifa a terror group “absurd.”
“We see this petition as a part of a political campaign to criminalize dissent,” a spokesperson for the website wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “It is insidious accusation that anti-fascism is ‘terrorism’ given the number of actual murders, mass casualty incidents and violence white supremacists are directly responsible for.”
“To lump ISIS in with anti-fascism in the same sentence as if anti-fascists are not actively fighting ISIS in Syria is an intentional effort to conflate two polar opposite efforts,” the spokesperson added. “Anti-fascists see ISIS and the alt-right as two sides of the same fascism.”