U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has urged the U.S. Department of State to officially designate international violent extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, as terrorist organizations.
His announcement followed the involvement of domestic terrorist groups, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, in the Jan. 6 failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the massive growth of violent extremist groups in New Jersey and nationwide in recent years.
The official terrorist group designation impedes fundraising by these groups; heightens public awareness of those linked to terrorism; makes clear to U.S. allies the government’s concerns about these groups; and warns the private sector of the risks of doing business with them. Most importantly, Gottheimer said, it disrupts terrorist networks by cutting off access to financial and other resources from sympathizers, and encourages those targeted to end their support for terrorism.
“Whatever their names may be — whether it’s from the right, like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, or the groups inspired by the radical Antifa ideology on the extreme left — they’re all justifying violence against their opponents, and neither Democrats nor Republicans should stand for this,” Gottheimer said.
Of the 200 arrests made since the Jan. 6 attack, at least ten of the insurrections are from New Jersey, including one from Sussex County, Scott Fairlamb, who was indicted on 12-counts, including assaulting an officer.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey are at the highest levels ever recorded. The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has labeled white supremacy as a top level terror threat.
Gottheimer was joined at his announcement, held at Sussex County Community College, by Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch, First Assistant Prosecutor Greg Mueller, Captain Jennifer Williams of the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, Sussex County Undersheriff Matthew Avenatti, and Sussex County Community College President Jon Connelly.