The Department of Homeland Security said Monday it would be examining its ranks to root out “domestic violent extremism.”
“As we work to safeguard the nation and our values, we must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organization,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly told staff in a memo.
“Violent extremism has no place at DHS and we will work with urgency and focus to address it,” the secretary added.
The internal review means senior officials at the agency will “immediately begin a comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.”
While acknowledging free speech rights, Mayorkas said “there is a marked difference between that right and violence in furtherance of extremist ideologies.”
In the wake of the Capitol riots and other “recent events,” he identified domestic extremists as “the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today.”
The move has been compared to the Pentagon’s 60-day “stand down” to root out extremism, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered in February.
Today, I met with senior leaders to discuss extremism in the military. As a first step, I'm ordering a stand down to occur over the next 60 days so each service, each command and each unit can have a deeper conversation about this issue. It comes down to leadership. Everyone’s. pic.twitter.com/wbC21hdHaV— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) February 4, 2021
"Just announcing it sends a very important signal, not only to the DHS workforce, but to the broader community that DHS does not just have a mission to domestic extremism outwardly," Dave Lapan, who served as DHS press secretary in the Trump administration, told CBS News. "It's also making sure that it's own house is in order."