AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott held the first meeting for the newly-created Domestic Terrorism Task Force at the Texas Capitol on Friday.

According to the governor's office, the task force was created in the wake of the El Paso shooting to "combat these hateful acts and extremism in Texas."

The group's purpose is to "analyze and provide advice on strategies to maximize law enforcement’s ability to protect against acts of domestic terrorism."

The group will meet quarterly and members include:

  • Governor Greg Abbott
  • Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton 
  • Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen 
  • Colonel Steve McCraw, Department of Public Safety
  • Chief W. Nim Kidd, Texas Division of Emergency Management
  • Major General Tracy Norris, Texas Military Department
  • Executive Director Amanda Crawford, Texas Department of Information Resources
  • Executive Director Carter Smith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
  • Members of the United States Customs and Border Patrol
  • Members of the United States Secret Service
  • John Bash, United States Attorney -- Western District of Texas 
  • Jeff Murray, Department of Homeland Security
  • Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • K. Sunshine Stanek, District Attorney for Lubbock County
  • Greg Allen, El Paso Police Chief 
  • Sheriff Eddie Guerra, Hidalgo County
  • Captain Anthony Carter, Collin County Sheriff's Office, North Texas Fusion Center

According to the governor's office, specific objectives of the task force include analyzing current and emerging threats in Texas and developing strategies to prevent and respond to such threats.

Additionally, the task force will provide recommendations regarding state homeland security strategic planning and relevant legislative recommendations to the governor and the legislature.

On Friday, Gov. Abbott said El Paso was a catalyst for this task force but the group's purpose is even broader than that.

"We need to come to grips with the fact that there has been an increasing number of mass shootings as well as terroristic attacks," Gov. Abbott said.

As examples, the governor cited the downtown Dallas shooting in 2016, the Austin bombings last year and the Fort Hood shooting several years ago.

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In the meeting's closing remarks, Gov. Abbott said the task force needs to first define what exactly domestic terrorism is.

"Domestic terrorism is different from foreign that may try to come to our shores," Gov. Abbott said. "Domestic terrorism may or may not be different from gang activity. Some gang activity is intended to commit certain crimes. Some gang activity exists for the purpose of creating terror."

The governor also added the group will work to identify different kinds of terrorists, such as a lone wolf terrorist, anti-government terrorists, ideological terrorists and racist terrorists.

Another major takeaway that the group worked on is to make it easier to prosecute terroristic activity.

Additionally, after the governor announced the creation of the task force on Wednesday August 14, he directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to combat any form of domestic terrorism in Texas by:

  • Conducting a state intelligence assessment on the domestic terrorism threat in Texas.
  • Establishing a Domestic Terrorism Section within the Texas Fusion Center to proactively seek, assess and monitor domestic terrorism and other mass casualty threats.
  • Establishing Domestic Terrorism Teams comprised of DPS Special Agents to provide immediate direct support to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), and increase the number of Special Agents assigned to the JTTFs to conduct domestic counterterrorism investigations.
  • Increasing the number of DPS Special Agents and Analysts in the Texas Anti-Gang Centers conducting investigations on criminal gangs affiliated with Neo Nazi and White Nationalist groups and networks espousing terrorist attacks.

WATCH: Gov. Abbott holds first Task Force meeting to address domestic terrorism

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