DHS Secretary Mayorkas launches internal domestic violent extremism review

Alejandro Mayorkas said he hopes to "prevent, detect, and respond to threats."

April 26, 2021, 9:57 PM

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas launched an internal probe Monday "to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the Department of Homeland Security," according to a letter he wrote to all DHS employees.

Mayorkas said he will compile a working group which will provide a "comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS."

"Given the evolving threat landscape and the grave risks posed by domestic violent extremism, including to our employees and operations, I have directed the Department to immediately begin a review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to domestic violent extremism threats within DHS," the letter reads. "The team managing this internal effort, led by our Chief Security Officer, will report back to me with its recommendations."

Mayorkas said people from the department will discuss their plans to move forward in the coming days.

"We will not allow hateful acts or violent extremism to penetrate the fabric of our Department and fundamentally compromise our ability to protect the Homeland," Mayorkas wrote.

The DHS is comprised of more than 240,000 employees spanning multiple agencies including FEMA, the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Mayorkas' letter comes about two years after former Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson was charged by the U.S. Attorney in Maryland on firearms charges.

Hasson was arrested in the parking lot of the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, according to authorities.

According to court documents, Hasson was described as someone who had "espoused extremist views for years."

In a draft email from June 2017 he allegedly wrote, "I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something."

He was found to have been studying the writings of previous domestic terrorists and was particularly interested in that of Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, prosecutors alleged.

Hasson was sentenced to 160 months in prison last year.