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  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez  acting as chairman of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, speaks during a hearing on Confronting White Supremacy.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez acting as chairman of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, speaks during a hearing on Confronting White Supremacy. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 June 2019

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez questioned an FBI official over how the agency treats crimes committed by Muslims as domestic terrorism while failing to do so in by white supremacists cases.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) questioned an FBI officer over not charging white supremacists’ acts of violence as domestic terrorism in the United States but doing the same for violence carried out by Muslims.

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During a hearing before the House Oversight subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties on “Confronting White Supremacy,” various Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials appeared to answer questions by Congresspeople.

AOC questioned FBI counterterrorism expert Michael McGarrity on why white supremacy is not considered as domestic terrorism.

She gave the examples of Mother Emanuel in Charleston and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where both crimes were committed by white supremacists but they were ruled as “hate crime” and Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando was treated as domestic terrorism.

McGarrity tried to explain that the later violence was connected to “foreign terrorism.”

“Doesn’t it seem that because the perpetrator was Muslim that the designation would say it’s a foreign organization?” she asked.

To which McGarrity replied that religion does not matter. After continuous questioning, McGarrity finally said there is no statute for the FBI to treat crimes by white supremacists as terrorist acts.

“Because the United States Congress doesn’t have a statute for us for domestic terrorism like we do for a foreign terrorist organization like we do for ISIS, al Qaeda, and Al-Shabaab,” McGarrity said.

“I could not help but feel and see that attacks committed by Muslim Americans were almost automatically labeled as domestic terrorist incidents,” AOC said.

“Yet white supremacist shooting after shooting after shooting is not and I cannot help but come to the conclusion that these labels, what’s being labeled as terrorism, is almost exclusively coming down to the identity, and it seems as though white men invoking white supremacy and engaging in mass shootings are almost immune from being labeled domestic terrorists in their violence.”

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