A top US lawmaker has warned that violent right-wing extremist groups are targeting veterans and that the issue could get even worse if not directly effectively combatted.
Mark Takano, a Democrat and the Chair of House veterans affairs committee, said that especially in an increasingly fraught political climate and in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 2021 insurrection on the Capitol, the recruitment strategy of these extremist groups was extremely worrying.
Takano said that it is a bipartisan issue because the definition of extremism does not favor conservative or liberal. He said it’s about endorsing or promoting violence in order to achieve ends, not about the content of the ideology of the group.
However, he said that the current threat is coming from the extremist right, especially over the past six years. He continued that there was no real evidence of leftwing extremist groups targeting veterans in recruitment strategies, only rightwing ones.
Violent attacks conducted by right-wing groups in America are significantly more prevalent than from left-wing, international, or Islamist terrorist groups. Data shows that far-right terrorism has outpaced any other type of terrorism in the U.S.
The Center for International Strategic Studies looked at close to 900 terrorist plots and attacks that happened in the U.S. between January 1994 and May 2020 and found that far-right terrorism had outpaced other types of terrorism significantly. This includes even terrorist individuals inspired by al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
The report found right-wing extremists were responsible for two-thirds of all plots and attacks in 2019, and more than 90 percent between Jan 1 and May 8, 2020.
Takano’s committee held its first hearing in October, looking into how and why veterans are being targeted for recruitment by rightwing extremist groups, including groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.