Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli stated he “didn’t know” the far-left, militant group AntiFa had a strong international presence, a crucial component for the Trump administration to label the group a terrorist organization.
The exchange follows President Trump taking to Twitter to declare he’d designate the group – short for Anti-Fascist Action – as a “terrorist organization” in light of the group wreaking chaos and destruction nationwide and commandeering protests over George Floyd’s death. No legislation, however, has been advanced to formalize the designation.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Key to granting this classification is proving the international reach of the group, for domestic organizations fall under the purview of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. As the nonpartisan Congressional Research Foundation notes: “the federal government lacks a public and official method for either designating specific domestic groups as terrorists or formally and openly describing particular extremist movements as a threat.”
Cuccinelli’s proclamation on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight that “I don’t know that they’ve done anything outside the United States” is a missed opportunity to lay the groundwork for the much-deserved designation. It’s also blatantly false.
For starters, the group’s name and logo are derived from the German Antifa movement, Antifaschistische Aktion.
And Mark Bray, the group’s most prominent historian and author of the seminal AntiFa Handbook, claimed on Democracy Now! that “anti-fascists view their struggle as trans-national and trans-historical.”
The International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund – a group that provides “standing fund to defend and support antifascists in times of crisis” often by providing bail and funds for legal bills – has helped more than 500 antifascists in 22 countries.
Tens of thousands of dollars have helped “28 individuals in Norway, 20 in the U.S., 11 in Russia, 10 in Ireland, seven in Germany, four in Canada, two each in Greece, Poland, and Sweden, and one each in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, and the UK.”
And collaboration between these chapters occurs beyond the financial front.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sent a task force to Germany to monitor massive demonstrations planned by groups including Antifaschistische Aktion in response to President Trump attending the G20 summit, expecting participation by the group’s U.S. counterparts.
Official reports corroborated the existence of an international AntiFa axis:
‘Task force covered G20 meeting in Hamburg, studied intel from local authorities, Interpol, and other assets, determined that as assumed U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and took place in the violence.”
Reports pointed to the presence of Oakland-based AntiFa activists at the 2017 protest:
“While in Hamburg, several of the Oakland-based criminals were photographed throwing Molotov cocktails and wielding iron bars, which have been their weapons of choice, though they are almost certainly on the verge of upping the caliber of their weaponry for use in the U.S. Despite having their faces covered by masks, they were positively identified.”
And U.S. AntiFa chapters even have direct links to designated terrorist organizations.
FBI reports have documented collaboration between college AntiFa chapters with Islamic terrorist groups ISIS and Al Qaeda:
“There is also evidence of meetings between these individuals and associates of ISIS. There is an urgent need to closely surveil the identified individuals.”
Oakland AntiFa activists, near the far-left University of California Berkely, have traveled to meet with officials from both groups and sought to procure weapons from them:
“Ties between three key leaders of the Oakland group [names redacted] met in Hamburg with a leader of the AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and the AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb]. The leader from AQAP is an Egyptian-born male [name redacted] who is known to be in charge of finances and recruiting for the group. There is evidence from informants that he is helping the Oakland group acquire the weapons they are seeking, primarily bomb making equipment and toxic chemicals and gasses. One of the men from Oakland traveled to Syria to meet with ISIS; the purpose was for training in tactics, but was thought to be primarily a bonding visit to discuss possible massive disruptive attacks in the U.S.”
The burden of proving why AntiFa ought to be designated as a terrorist group falls exclusively on the Trump administration – many in the media, Democrats, and even corporates are in lockstep with the group.
Correction: An earlier headline referred to Cuccinelli as “ICE” director. He is in fact, the acting CIS director. The editor regrets the brief error.