WASHINGTON — Legislation in the United States Congress aimed at countering white-supremacist violence cites the killings in a Quebec City mosque as one of several cautionary examples of the threat of domestic terrorism.
The killing of six people in the Canadian mosque last year is among just over a half-dozen incidents cited in a bill introduced this month in the House of Representatives, the companion to a bill introduced earlier in the U.S. Senate.
Prime Minister Trudeau labelled it a terrorist attack.
The text of the legislation refers to a right-wing extremist who had expressed anti-Muslim views being charged with murder for allegedly killing six people and injuring 19 in a shooting rampage at a mosque in Quebec City.
"It was the first-ever mass shooting at a mosque in North America,'' says the text of the legislation for Bill 4918, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2018.
"Prime Minister Trudeau labelled it a terrorist attack.''
The bill also mentions a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally; a shooting at a Jewish community centre in Kansas; the murder of an African-American man in New York City; and the mass-shooting in a Charleston church.
It cites statistics indicating that since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, far more Americans have been killed by white, right-wing terrorists than by radical Muslims.
The bill would require the federal government to produce annual reports on domestic terrorism, provide training for local law enforcement to better recognize the threat and steer certain law-enforcement funds toward the issue.
The bill's sponsor said the problem is worse than commonly recognized.
"I urge my colleagues to join me in the urgent effort to address the dramatically rising threat of domestic terrorism,'' said Brad Schneider, an Illinois Democrat, while introducing the bill in the House of Representatives.
"A recent FBI-Department of Homeland Security joint intelligence bulletin found white supremacist organizations were responsible for 49 homicides and 29 attacks from 2000 to 2016 — more than any other domestic extremist movement.''
As many open investigations into domestic terror as radical Islamist groups
The bill's chances of adoption are far from assured.
Only a tiny minority of bills introduced in the U.S. Congress become law and this one was introduced by the minority party in both chambers: five Democrats co-sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, while 13 Democrats co-sponsored it in the Senate.
The U.S. Congress did pass a symbolic resolution last fall in the wake of the Charlottesville incident, urging the president to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy and to use all resources available to fight those groups.
Also, the new director of the FBI says there are currently 1,000 open investigations into domestic terrorist groups — with a similar number of probes into groups with radical Islamist ideology.
Alexandre Bissonnette faces 12 charges — including six counts of first-degree murder — in connection with the Quebec City attack. His trial is scheduled to begin on March 26.
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