Clarion Project recently partnered with CELL (Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab) to bring you a complex but needed conversation on designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization.
Our special guest Andrew C. McCarthy, a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has been an integral and informed voice on the rising violence carried out by Antifa in the United States and the subsequent inquiry to designate them as a terror group.
McCarthy is is best known for leading the prosecution against the Blind Sheik (Omar Abdel Rahman) and 11 other jihadi terrorists for their part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plots to bomb other New York City landmarks.
After the 9/11 terror attacks, McCarthy supervised the U.S. attorney’s command post near Ground Zero. He later served as an adviser to the deputy secretary of defense. McCarthy is a highly respected author, senior fellow at the National Review Institute and contributing editor at National Review.
Host Ryan Mauro, director of Clarion Intelligence Network and Shillman Fellow, guided the conversation on the complex structures of a terror designation.
During the webinar, McCarthy framed several key questions and comparisons that address the legal and practical challenges of designating Antifa a terror group:
- McCarthy noted that people typically decide what outcome they want, then work backwards. A better approach, he opines, is to organize the charge around the evidence.
- The law isn’t fixated on how organized a group is (for example, compare the Mafia, which is highly structured, to Antifa, which is a decentralized group), but whether it’s organized to violate the law.
When asked about the confusion over Antifa being “anti-fascist” and using moniker to gain moral and financial support, McCarthy warned about the “exquisite” use of language these groups use to gain cover for their violence. He compares the better-known example of CAIR, who are “very shrewd about wrapping themselves in American civil rights.”
“Even though they’re promoting an ideology that would undermine civil rights [sharia law], they wrap themselves in the thing they’re trying to destroy,” he commented.
Mauro and McCarthy also discussed the intersections between the Nation of Islam, Islamist Jihad, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood as examples of how terror designations played out — or didn’t, and how that may inform us as to how an Antifa designation might be handled.
You can watch the full webinar here:
Clarion Project thanks our partners at CELL (Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab) for helping to make this program possible, with a special thanks to Mr. Larry Mizel for his courageous leadership and generous support in our important work.