FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed the Joint Terrorism Task Force is conducting a number of domestic violent extremism investigations focused on attacks or threats against churchs, pro-life organizations and pregnancy resource centers. The testimony came during the bi-annual Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
Wray could not say exactly how many investigations are ongoing, but mentioned active inquiries in Iowa, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
The attacks are related to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. While the pro-life organizations were the big concern of Republicans, Democrats were worried about abortion clinics and pro-choice organizations. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said previous testimony to the committee showed, last year, attacks targeting abortion centers, staff, and patients increased 128% compared to the year before. Stalking increased more than 600%.
Wray said those attacks have happened historically.
“I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, I don’t care who you’re upset with or what you’re upset about. On abortion or anything else, you do not get to use of violence or threats of violence to act on it. And we’re going to go after that conduct aggressively,” Wray told lawmakers.
Director Wray said ever since the Dobbs opinion leaked, there has been a general intensification of violence related to abortion. Wray believes it’s part of a larger phenomenon happening in the country, during which there has been a “notable uptick” in violence.
“I understand that passions run high, especially on an issue like abortion. But there are just way too many people who seem to think that that justifies engaging in violence and destruction of property and threats of violence. You mention molotov cocktails. I feel like everyday I’m getting briefed on somebody throwing a molotov cocktail on someone for some issue. It’s crazy,” Wray said.
Violent crime was a theme of the hearing from the start. In his opening statement, Wray said police chiefs and sheriffs around the country have expressed to him that their number one concern far and away is rising violence. That includes gangs, drug cartels, repeat offenders being released onto the street and robbery crews.
“The violent crime problem is real and it’s one we are firmly determined to combat,” Wray said.
According to Wray, there are more than 300 FBI task forces made up of 3,000 members across the country working on the crime issue, and they are focused on the “worst of the worst” offenders.