A Department of Homeland Security intelligence report leaked to The Nation has some experts skeptical of the department's motives.
The report targeted several left-wing American activists who the department would normally be prohibited from gathering intelligence on unless they had reason to believe the individuals were operating on behalf of a foreign power. The people named in the report, many of whom have identified with far-left causes, do have connections abroad — they traveled to Syria in the past and fought against the Islamic State alongside Kurdish factions like the YPG, PKK, and the Peshmerga.
The U.S., of course, considers ISIS an enemy, so it may seem surprising the U.S. government would focus on people who volunteered to fight against the terrorist group, but critics argue the Syria connection could be a ruse to root out potential antifa members. (Some of the individuals denied membership in antifa, which does not necessarily operate in any organized capacity to begin with.)
This is a big deal. Much as Trump et al want, domestic groups like the anti-fascist movement can't be formally labeled terror orgs. But tying them to foreign groups like the YPG (based on <12 people, incl. those who don't ID as antifa) opens them to otherwise-illegal surveillance https://t.co/upHP57QLdD
— Kelly Weill (@KELLYWEILL) August 3, 2020
The report eventually appears to conclude there is no evidence of a "centralized effort to give marching orders to returning antifa-affiliated" U.S. residents, but either way, the briefing didn't sit well with everyone. "They targeted Americans like they're Al-Qaeda," a former intelligence officer in the department with knowledge of the operations told The Nation. "They were essentially violating people's rights like this was the '60s." Read more at The Nation.
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