Most people arrested as the result of FBI terrorism investigations are charged with non-terrorism offenses, and more domestic terror suspects were arrested last year than those allegedly inspired by international terror groups, according to internal FBI figures reviewed by The Washington Post.
As government officials and activists debate the best way to pursue violent extremists, the figures show how much of counterterrorism work goes undeclared and unnoticed. Thousands are investigated each year. Hundreds are charged with crimes. But the public and the media see only dozens.
The debate centers on whether federal law and law enforcement are too focused on Islamic terrorism and not paying enough attention to the rise in far right-wing extremism. In fact, according to the data, more domestic terrorist targets are being charged, and in both categories, law enforcement officials often leverage simpler crimes, such as violations of gun or drug laws, to prevent violence.