Congressman Biggs' Opening Statement for the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Hearing on the Rise of Domestic Terrorism
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs, Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security for the House Committee on the Judiciary prepared the following remarks for introduction in the hearing “The Rise of Domestic Terrorism in America”:
Thank you, Madame Chair.
As this is the first hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security this Congress and my first hearing as Ranking Member of this esteemed Subcommittee, I want to start out by saying how much I look forward to working with you to combat violent crime, keep our communities safe, and stand by the men and women of law enforcement.
Turning our attention to today’s hearing on “The Rise of Domestic Terrorism in America,” we must approach this subject with open minds and open eyes. We must acknowledge that all domestic terrorism is wrong and must not only be acknowledged, but condemned. This includes domestic terrorism labeled as right-wing and left-wing.
I fear that my colleagues on the other side of the dais will simply want to focus on right-wing domestic terrorism. Let’s hope I am mistaken.
However, I suppose that they would first need to admit that left-wing domestic terrorism exists. Just last year, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee called ANTIFA “imaginary.”
I suppose our witness today, Mr. Ngo was beaten and continually threatened by adherents to an imaginary group. ANTIFA laid siege to some of our cities much of last year. I hope that we can have a thoughtful and balanced discussion about the issue of domestic terrorism.
I remain hopeful despite the fact that one of our witnesses here today suggested that ISIS bomb a Trump property in Turkey. I cannot decide which is worse; that a retired Naval noncommissioned officer made such a suggestion on Twitter or that our Majority thought it was appropriate to invite him here today to discuss domestic terrorism.
Ideologies that fuel domestic terrorism exist all along the political spectrum.
In 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a Unite the Right Rally, James Alex Fields drove his car into counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 28 others.
Earlier that same year, we saw politically inspired domestic terrorism hit much closer to home. As Republican Members gathered at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, to practice for an annual Congressional baseball game for charity James Thomas Hodgkinson, 66, fired at least 70 rounds from a handgun and rifle at the congressmen, staff, and others at the park. Five people were injured during the assault—including Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who was in critical condition and underwent multiple surgeries. The Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Alexandria, a Democrat, concluded that, “the evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism.”
We also cannot forget the attack that took place in 2012 at the Family Research Council when Floyd Corkins attempted to “kill as many people as [he] could” at the Family Research Center in Washington, D.C.” According to the sentencing memorandum he told the FBI he wanted to “kill the people in the building and then smear a Chicken-fil-A sandwich on their face.” He was inspired to attack the FRC because it had been identified Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate map.
It was a different set of ideologies that inspired the attacks on west coast federal buildings than those that inspired an attack on our Capitol.
We’ve seen white and black supremacist groups inspire domestic terrorist events.
In 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylan Roof, harboring views of white supremacy, took the lives of nine congregants of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 2019 in Jersey City, New Jersey, David N. Anderson and Francine Graham shot and killed three people at a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, New Jersey. The shooters also wounded one customer and two police officers. A Jersey City Police Department detective was shot and killed by the assailants at a nearby cemetery just before the grocery store attack. Anderson and Graham identified as Black Hebrew Israelites which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that “the extremist fringe of the Hebrew Israelite movement” is black supremacist. It also wrote that the members of those groups “believe that Jews are devilish impostors and . . . openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery.
I hope that our hearing today will address all forms of domestic terrorism, no matter the ideology that inspires it.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
Congressman Andy Biggs is a third-term Representative from Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District, representing parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Queen Creek. Congressman Biggs is a member of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Reform committees. He lives with his wife, Cindy, in Gilbert.