The Department of Homeland Security is considering monitoring the travel of domestic extremists and expanding its use of the No Fly List, law enforcement sources told POLITICO.
The discussions are part of the Biden administration’s strategy of treating domestic terror as a national security threat, and not just a law enforcement problem. They’re also part of broader conversations in government about how to use tools developed for the Global War on Terror to combat domestic extremism. And, if past is prologue, the approach could prove politically contentious.
The department could begin analyzing the travel patterns of suspected domestic extremists, monitor flights they book on short notice and search their luggage for weapons, a senior law enforcement official told POLITICO. There have also been discussions about putting suspected domestic violent extremists — a category that includes white supremacists — on the FBI’s No Fly List, the official said. When suspected extremists travel internationally, officials may be more likely to question them before they pass through customs and to search their phones and laptops.
A second law enforcement official told POLITICO that conversations about monitoring domestic extremists’ travel have involved multiple federal agencies at the interagency level, including the FBI.
“Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal, persistent terrorism-related threat to our homeland today,” a DHS spokesperson said in response to a request for comment. “DHS is committed to improving security and is reviewing options for enhancing screening and vetting protocols and travel pattern analyses, consistent with privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”
The FBI declined to comment.
Officials at DHS are interested in international travel connected to the kind of ideologically motivated terrorism that inspired the Capitol insurrection, the official added, and may increase this focus. An unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment released earlier this month highlighted the intelligence community’s interest in domestic extremists’ international travel.