Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was schooled by an FBI counterterrorism official earlier this week after she incorrectly suggested Muslims get charged with terrorism because they are treated as foreign, while white supremacists get “off the hook.”
The New York Democrat used a hearing on Tuesday to suggest that Muslims are being treated differently in the U.S., including getting charged with terrorism for criminal acts, while white supremacist attackers avoid being charged with “domestic terrorism” for similar crimes.
Michael McGarrity, the assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI, fired back at the freshman Democrat, explaining that the authorities can’t charge people with a “domestic terrorism” charge simply because such a charge does not exist in U.S. laws.
“You're using the word ‘charge,’ as I said before there's no domestic terrorism charge like 18 USC § 2339 ABCD for a foreign terrorist organization,” McGarrity explained. “What we do both on the international terrorism side with the homegrown violent extremists and domestic terrorism, we'll use any tool in the toolkit to arrest them,” McGarrity said.
“You're not going to find an actual charge of domestic terrorism out there if you look at Title 18--,” he added after repeated questioning by the Democrat.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to point out to the San Bernardino shooting or the Orlando pulse nightclub shooting as the cases where the perpetrators were “charged as domestic terrorist incidents,” a claim that is incorrect.
“So, because the perpetrator was Muslim they’re — doesn’t it seem that because the perpetrator is Muslim that the designation would say it’s a foreign organization?” Ocasio-Cortez asked during the hearing.
According to ABC News, which detailed how Ocasio-Cortez conflated two different terms, in neither of the two cases people were charged as “domestic terrorists” and were instead charged as “homegrown violent extremists,” a term given to criminals in the U.S. who draw inspiration from “foreign terrorist organizations” such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
White supremacist attackers could be charged as “homegrown violent extremists” as long as they are tied to a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the U.S. government, though no such case has ever been found.
“No, that is not correct, that is not correct,” McGarrity responded, adding that the law doesn’t differentiate between religions while noting that the FBI would normally classify those radicalized by the global Jihad as foreign terrorists.
“Some of the definitions I think we’re using, we’re talking past each other,” McGarrity added.
Ocasio-Cortez later took a victory lap on social media, saying “First the FBI witness tried to say I was wrong. I tried to be generous + give benefit of doubt, but then we checked. I wasn’t.”
“Violence by Muslims is routinely treated as ‘terrorism,’ White Supremacist violence isn’t. Neo-Nazis are getting off the hook,” she added.
She didn’t disclose the information she “checked” and how the FBI official was wrong during the hearing.