Department of Homeland Security Announces Domestic Terrorism Prevention Grants

On Thursday, February 25, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it has allocated more than $1.8 billion in grant funds to local and state governments. The funds are to be used to protect citizens against domestic terrorism and other disasters. Of the funds, at least $77 million is dedicated to fighting violent domestic extremists.

What the Department of Homeland Security Has to Say

Alejandro Mayorkas is President Biden's confirmed Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. He said that the most significant source of terrorism is the homegrown threat. Small groups of individuals who commit acts of violence that are motivated by extreme ideological beliefs are the biggest threat to national security at this time. According to Secretary Mayorkas, the United States will continue to follow the law while protecting citizens against threats from foreign terrorists. He added that the Department of Homeland Security must also make sure that there is enough focus and funding to combat domestic terrorism.

Why Domestic Terrorism Is On the Rise

False narratives, conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric that spreads across social media and the internet are the drivers of the increase in domestic terrorism and terrorist threats, explained Mayorkas. He said that the acting United States Capitol Police Chief, Yogananada Pittman, told him that the militia groups that committed insurrection against the United States at the Capitol on January 6 are making new credible threats that they want to blow up the Capitol when President Biden goes there to address Congress. The terrorists say that they want to kill as many members of Congress as they can. The grant funds will provide essential resources to stop the terrorists.

The Capitol Needs Enhanced Security

Acting Chief Pittman said that all of these threats necessitate increased security at the Capitol. The Department of Homeland Security grants will be used to both prevent and respond to threats. The Department of Homeland Security also has plans to expand its grants to prevent domestic terrorism for the duration of President Biden's first term in office.

China Is the Biggest Outside Threat to Homeland Security

President Biden's nominee to lead the CIA told the Senate that China will be his top priority. The Department of Homeland Security grants for terrorism preparedness will be used to enhance cyber security that will allow the United States to identify hacking and other cyber attacks as quickly as possible. Cyber attacks are one of the leading ways that China can cause problems for the United States. These attacks are low-risk and high-reward for the Chinese government.

History of Department of Homeland Security Preparedness Grants

The Department of Homeland Security's preparedness grants to help safeguard the nation from domestic terrorism were first issued in 2002. They were created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. More than $54 billion has been sent to local jurisdictions since the first grants were distributed.

What This Year's Department of Homeland Security Grants Can't Be Used for

Over the past year, there has been a lot of public protest around militarization of the police. Many high-profile citizen deaths related to police brutality and other improper actions by police officers have been reported in the news. Some of these events triggered widespread protests in large cities as well as smaller towns across the United States. During the summer of 2020, protests over the killing of George Floyd took place in every state capitol. Some of those protests became destructive and violent, which caused a lot of backlash against the protesters. According to Secretary Mayorkas, the grant funds can't be used to buy certain types of equipment. Some of the prohibited items include bayonets, grenade launchers and weaponized aircraft. Some local law enforcement used those items to discourage and disperse protesters last year.

What the Department of Homeland Security Grants Can Be Used for

Local and state authorities can use the new grant funds from the Department of Homeland Security to pay for software and information technology experts in the area of cyber security. They can also be used for more police on the ground. Local authorities can use the funds for cameras in high-risk areas for domestic terrorism, including state capitol buildings and other government facilities. The funds can also be used to train law enforcement and intelligence officials. Some of the funds can also be used for preparedness and bioterrorism. In 2001, the anthrax attacks prompted funding allocation for bioterrorism prevention grants.

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