Asked about how the FBI classified the Proud Boys, Wray told lawmakers in Washington: “Well, I don’t think we have treated the Proud Boys itself as a domestic terrorism group.”
“But we certainly have individuals—” he began adding, before being interrupted by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who wondered what it would take for a group to be put on the list.
“Well, there is, as you may know, senator, under federal law, under U.S. law, there is no list of domestic terrorism organizations the same way there is for foreign terrorist organizations,” Wray said.
Graham then asked whether the Oathkeepers is a domestic terrorist organization.
“Again, we have individuals with that group who are—” Wray started, before being cut off again.
Graham asked about Antifa, to which Wray gave the same answer.
“So why don’t we think about how to gather better information and expose some of these groups? If they were on a list would it make it easier for you?” Graham asked.
“I think the issue of whether or not to designate or have a formal mechanism for designating domestic terror groups in the same way we do with, say, Al Qaeda or ISIS, I think there’s reasonable debate about whether or not it would—” Wray said, before Graham interrupted him yet again.
Graham asked whether the KKK is a domestic terror group, to which Wray stated bluntly: “There is no legal designation.”
“My point is I don’t know if we should have one or not. But I think it’s time to think about it,” Graham said.
Wray had said earlier in the hearing that the Jan. 6 Capital breach was domestic terrorism.
The Proud Boys are a self-described fraternal organization.
“The Proud Boys confuse the media because the group is anti-[social justice warrior] without being alt-right. ‘Western chauvinist’ includes all races, religions, and sexual preferences,” the group says on an archived version of its website.
Members of the group have been known to confront members of the far-left Antifa network during rallies and on city streets, and several were charged in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Enrique Tarrio, the group’s leader, was arrested a few days before Jan. 6 for burning a Black Lives Matter banner and told to stay away from Washington. Later in January, it was reported he was a prolific informer for law enforcement.
Canada designated the Proud Boys a terrorist group in early February.
A sheriff official in Washington state in 2018 claimed the FBI categorized the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism, but an FBI special agent in charge told The Oregonian that the description stemmed from a misunderstanding of a presentation.
“We do not intend and did not intend to designate the group as extremist,” he said.