And yet, this important and correct identification was not communicated to the American people, while the MSM and Democrats continue to champion Antifa as brave opponents of “white supremacists,” and police of cities like Berkeley where Antifa clashed with the Right in public rallies treated Trump supporters as the perpetrators of violence.
Josh Meyer reports for Politico, Sept. 1, 2017, that as early as April 2016, well before the election and subsequent presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by the Obama administration’s DHS and the FBI had classified radical Left anarchists who call themselves Antifa as “domestic terrorists”.
The April 2016 DHS/FBI joint report, Baseline Comparison of US and Foreign Anarchist Extremist Movements, identified Antifa as perpetrators of attacks on police, government, symbols of capitalism, racism, “social injustice and fascism”. After Donald Trump was elected President last November, Antifa activists locked onto another target — Trump supporters, especially white nationalists (labeled “white supremacists” by Antifa and the complicit MSM), and Confederate symbols and monuments.
An unnamed “senior state law enforcement official” said, “A whole bunch of them [Antifa]” have been deemed dangerous enough to be placed on U.S. terrorism watch lists.
By the spring of 2016, Antifa groups had become so aggressive, including making armed attacks on individuals and small groups of perceived enemies, that federal officials launched a global investigation with the help of the U.S. intelligence community so as to determine whether Antifa might start committing terrorist bombings at the Republican and Democratic conventions that summer, like their foreign counterparts in Greece, Italy and Mexico.
Some Antifa terrorists have gone overseas to train and fight with fellow anarchist organizations, including two Turkey-based groups fighting the Islamic State.
Based on their classification of Antifa as “domestic terrorists,” DHS/FBI have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous.
In fact, a DHS assessment in August 2017 precisely warned of a potential for unprecedented violence at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, where Democrat mayor Mike Signer is alleged to have ordered the police to stand down.
In interviews with Politico, law enforcement authorities blamed Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and policies — first as a candidate and then as president — for helping to to create a situation that has escalated so quickly and extensively that they do not have a handle on it.
An unnamed “senior law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that has become a front line in clashes between the groups” said:
“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them. These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people.… They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows.”
According to the confidential documents and interviews obtained by Politico, almost immediately, the right-wing targets of Antifa began fighting back, bringing weapons and launching unprovoked attacks of their own. The extremists on both sides have been using the confrontations, especially since Charlottesville, to recruit unprecedented numbers of new members, raise money and threaten more confrontations. The unnamed “senior law enforcement official” said:
“Everybody is wondering, ‘What are we gonna do? How are we gonna deal with this?’. Every time they have one of these protests where both sides are bringing guns, there are sphincters tightening in my world. Emotions get high, and fingers get twitchy on the trigger.”
Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who has been monitoring domestic militants for 31 years, now at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said:
“Both the racists and a segment of violent antifa counter-protestors are amped for battle in an escalating arms race, where police departments are outmaneuvered, resulting in increasingly violent dangerous confrontations. It’s an orchestrated dance. The rallies spill over into social media and then even more people show up at the next rally primed for violent confrontation.”
This is how the April 2016 DHS-FBI joint report as well as other federal documents and interviews, describe Antifa (Anti-Fascist Action Network):
- Antifa evolved out of leftist anti-government anarchist groups like Black Bloc, who have instigated violence at events like the 1999 Seattle World Trde Organization.
- They dress in black and conceal their faces with masks and bandanas.
- They claim to have no leader and no hierarchy, but DHS-FBI believe they are organized via decentralized networks of cells that coordinate with each other. Often, they spend weeks planning for violence at upcoming events.
- Dozens of armed Antifa groups have emerged, including Redneck Revolt, Red Guards, and By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) — a group that claims as a member none other than Berkeley’s mayor Jesse Arreguin.
- One report from New Jersey authorities said self-described Antifa groups have been established in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.
At the same time, DHS-FBI say there are gaps in their knowledge and understanding of Antifa, admitting that they have only “medium confidence” in their assessments:
- A “senior New Jersey law enforcement official” following Antifa said: “There’s a lot more we don’t know about these groups than what we do know about them.”
- Significant “intelligence gaps” include an inability to penetrate Antifa groups’ “diffuse and decentralized organizational structure,” which makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify violent groups and individuals.
- Authorities also “lack information to identify the travel patterns linking U.S. and foreign anarchist extremists”.
- A reason for the federal government’s “intelligence gaps” is because many of Antifa’s activities, such as their training camps, meetings and online communications, “are not within the purview of FBI and DHS collection” due to civil liberties and privacy protections.