US President Donald Trump on Sunday said that America is designating far-left extremist group Antifa as a terrorist organisation in view of its role in violence across the country after the killing of a black man by a white police officer in Minnesota.
Antifa, regarded as a militant, left-wing, anti-fascist political activist movement in the US, comprises autonomous activist groups that aim to achieve their political objectives through the use of direct action rather than through policy reforms.
“The United States of America will be designating Antifa as a terrorist organisation,” Trump said in a tweet.
The Trump administration is blaming this far-left extremist group for the sudden spike in violent protests across the country after the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Attorney General William P Barr said in a statement.
The Trump administration alleges that it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchistic and far left extremists using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from out of state to promote the violence.
To identify criminal organisers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using the existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), the Attorney General said.
“With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent and extremist agenda.
“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it. The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens,” Barr said.
It also undercuts the urgent work that needs to be done – through constructive engagement between affected communities and law enforcement leaders – to address legitimate grievances, he said.
“Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed,” Barr said.
Appearing on a Sunday talk show, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told CNN that the president and the attorney general want to know from the FBI what they have been doing to track, dismantle, surveil and prosecute Antifa.
“And if that hasn’t been happening, we want to know what the plan is going forward. These Antifa militant radicals who come into our cities and cross state lines, and they’re organised, and use Molotov cocktails and fireworks, and gas to burn down our cities, especially businesses in minority neighbourhoods, it’s got to be stopped,” he said.
The violence, he alleged, has been driven by Antifa.
“They did it in Seattle. They have done it in Portland. They have done it in Berkeley. This is a destructive force of radicals — I don’t even know if we want to call them leftists. Whatever they are, they’re militants who are coming in and burning our cities, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he alleged.