‘Heightened threat environment across the United States in coming weeks’
The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security David Pekoske issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin Wednesday after consultation with the intelligence community and law enforcement partners. There is currently a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot; however, violent riots have continued in recent days and DHS is concerned that “individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances and ideological causes fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence.”
“Throughout 2020, domestic violent extremists targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity. Violent domestic extremists motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities,” DHS said in a statement Wednesday.
Racism and xenophobia — including opposition to immigration — has driven domestic extremist attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.
DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some domestic extremists may be emboldened by the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.
DHS is also concerned that homegrown violent extremists inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.
Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.