Ethnically and racially driven terrorism rose alarmingly in 2018 worldwide and in the United States and groups often mimic the tactics of armed Islamist militants to radicalise and recruit people the US State Department said.
“Similar to Islamist terrorism this breed of terrorism is inspired by hateful, supremacist and intolerant ideology,” Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator, told a briefing, adding the 2018 attack by a gunman who killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was an example of this trend.
“Make no mistake we will confront all forms of terrorism no matter what ideology inspires it,” Sales said.
He added white supremacist and other racially motivated terror organisations were copying strategies of armed Islamist groups.
“They are learning from their jihadist predecessors in terms of ability to raise and move money, in terms of their ability to radicalise and recruit.”
Mass shootings that killed dozens of people this year in the US fuelled a long-running debate over gun control.
In August, a suspected white nationalist shot and killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, shortly after posting an anti-Hispanic manifesto online.
US President Donald Trump said after the shooting Americans “must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and blamed the internet and violent video games for fostering violence. Some Democrats and El Paso residents said Trump’s own rhetoric about an immigrant “invasion” contributed to racial division.
Asked if any neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups in the US had been identified as terrorist organisations, Sales said State Department deferred to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on combatting domestic terrorism threats.
He added the State Department worked with technology companies to develop positive narratives against hateful messages and international partners to mobilise action against networks.