Former President Donald Trump repeatedly sounded the alarm last year regarding the perceived threat posed by violent leftists aligned with the Antifa movement.
Although many in the Democratic Party and mainstream media attempted to dismiss those warnings based in part on misconstrued interpretations of the conclusions reached by FBI Director Christopher Wray, the intelligence official recently hewed much closer to the views of his ex-boss.
“Individuals who self-identify with Antifa”
Wray appeared before the House Intelligence Committee for a hearing on Thursday during which he clarified that Antifa “is a real thing” and “not a fiction,” as has been implied by some in the media.
Although he noted that evidence shows “Antifa to be more of a movement” than a clearly organized entity, he said that there “are certainly local and regional nodes, individuals who self-identify with Antifa who commit violent attacks, citing that as their motivation.”
According to Wray, there have been “a number of predicated investigations into such individuals,” going on to describe the extremist movement as “a concern.”
For his part, U.S. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) attempted to drill down on the level of organization between those “nodes” of the larger movement, prompting Wray to note that some such coordination likely takes place but indicated that most activities, particularly training, appears to be confined to a local or regional level.
“We have seen individual instances in small regional nodes of people coming together to train,” he acknowledged, stressing that “there’s not some big, national structure that is responsible for the violence — what we have seen is locally organized nodes.”
“We investigate very aggressively”
Pressed even further on the matter, Wray confirmed that “at the local level, in some cases the regional level, we have seen organized activity — people working together.”
That lack of national structure, however, is not preventing the FBI from investigating Antifa and claims of its inspiration of violence and destruction.
“So we take anarchist violent extremism, much of which associates with the Antifa movement, very seriously,” Wray said. “It is something that we investigate very aggressively, and in fact, the number of investigations in that space is something that’s dramatically increased on my watch over the last few years.”
After touting his record on the matter, Wray dismissed the “tendency on the part of people to want to view how structured and organized something is as a proxy for how seriously threatening it is or isn’t,” concluding that there is plenty of “very dangerous, serious activity out there that’s no organized.”
Aside from the general statements he provided lawmakers this week, Wray declined to provide any further details — particularly regarding the level of coordination and organization investigators have found in terms of funding the group, noting only that “the financing issue is something we continue to investigate.”