(Corrects April 15 story to remove references throughout to extremists being far-right; the FBI did not specify their ideology)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Racially motivated American extremists have engaged with like-minded activists overseas and traveled abroad to meet with them, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation told a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
FBI director Christopher Wray told a House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing that his agency considered racially motivated militants in the United States to be the domestic extremists with the most extensive international ties and that they had established social media connectivity across borders.
Wray said some U.S. extremists had traveled to Europe to meet and possibly train with activists. But he also noted that a lot of violent extremist threats “do not fit into nice ideological buckets.”
Wray’s comments about U.S. extremists traveling to Europe track the findings in a non-public version of a report on domestic extremists recently published by U.S spy agencies.
Reuters reported that the non-public report said Americans had traveled to Ukraine to fight with pro-Russian forces against the country’s elected government.
Wray did not specify who the racially-motivated extremists he mentioned were but the report said U.S. white supremacists are the “actors with the most persistent and concerning transnational connections.”
Wray told legislators that the FBI was engaged in an “ongoing effort” to look out for new threats to the U.S. Capitol — which was attacked by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 — and state capitols. He said the agency was receiving “an avalanche of tips that come in.”
Intelligence officials also told the committee they viewed current Russian military movements near Ukraine as a “show of force.”
The directors of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Central Intelligence Agency told the House Intelligence Committee U.S. agencies were monitoring Russian movements. “We all have to take very seriously the buildup,” CIA director William Burns said.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball, Daphne Psaledakis and Patricia Zengerle in WashingtonEditing by Alistair Bell)