Just three days after the tragic murders of nine African-Americans attending church services in Charleston, South Carolina, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) disagreed with public sentiment that the heinous act was an act of terrorism.
Director James Comey made his remarks on June 20 in Charleston, only three days following the events, The Daily Beast reports. Shortly after his remarks, the White House released their own statement, disagreeing with Comey’s interpretation of terrorism.
“Terrorism is an act of violence … to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act. And again based on what I know so far I don’t see it as a political act,” Comey said.
A White House spokesperson referred reporters to a previous statement that the Justice Department made on the matter, which was released just one day before Comey spoke.
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“The department’s investigation of the shooting incident in Charleston, South Carolina is ongoing. This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community, and the department is looking at this crime from all angles, including as a hate crime and as an act of domestic terrorism,” said spokeswoman Emily Pierce on June 19.
According to the government’s own definition, terrorism is defined as “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that … appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
In the past, the White House has publicly shunned Comey from high-profile events, possibly signaling friction behind closed doors. In February of this year, the White House did not invite Comey to a three-day summit discussing ways to prevent violent terrorist extremism in the United States and foreign nations because “the administration did not want the event too focused on law enforcement issues,” the New York Times reported.
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Photo Credit: FBI.gov via Wikimedia Commons, WBFF