This week the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide highlighting the ongoing threat of violence from domestic extremists to federal, state, and local elected officials across all political parties and political party representatives.
According to the bulletin, titled Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Heightened Threat to Elected Officials Nationwide, through 2020 and into 2021, some domestic violent extremists have been "motivated by perceptions of election fraud and perceived government infringement on their constitutional rights, as well as conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
DHS / FBI / NCTC assesses that these motivations could continue to potentially drive attempts to target elected officials. While the document states the FBI, DHS, and NCTC are unaware of any specific, credible reporting of imminent threats to elected officials or any planned events, law enforcement and private sector security partners are urged to remain vigilant.
What readers may find odd (or not) is that this bulletin focuses attention on right-leaning extremists and organizations. Nowhere are the violence and threats of left-leaning groups such as Antifa or Black Lives Matter referenced. Not once. This, despite many months of threats and destructive insurrectionist riots across the U.S. in 2020 and extending into this year.
The most recent example is from just this week. Following a call by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the community’s help at “unmasking” Antifa, an individual purporting to represent the group responded with a new video publishing Wheeler’s home address along with threats to kill the Mayor.
Similar incidents occurred last year in Chicago, Seattle, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and once again, Portland.
DHS Warns Extremists May Exploit Easing of COVID Restrictions
On Thursday of this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a separate Intelligence Brief warning that violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the U.S. in order to conduct attacks against a broader range of targets.
The Brief, titled Homeland Threat Remains Elevated, Range of Targets Expands, explains that COVID-19 social restrictions put in place across the nation in 2020 likely "limited violent extremists’ access to more traditional targets of ideologically motivated violence, including houses of worship, mass gatherings, and other crowded commercial facilities."
Now that many of these restrictions have been removed, caution and increased situational awareness is urged.
The Brief also points out that recent messaging from foreign terrorist organizations continues to amplify narratives related to "exploiting civil protests."
Readers are reminded that just two weeks ago, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of new calls by an Al Qaeda linked organization for followers in the U.S. and Europe to infiltrate protests and civil unrest to carry out attacks, with a particular emphasis on targeting law enforcement.
FBI Warns On Al Qaeda, ISIS and Hezbollah
Also this week, during testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations, Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, stated that al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah continue to represent a menace against the U.S. homeland.
"The FBI remains concerned that foreign terrorist groups, such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida, intend to carry out or inspire large-scale attacks in the United States. Despite their loss of physical territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS remains relentless in its campaign of violence against the United States and our partners, both here at home and overseas."
According to Sanborn, jihadis pose “the greatest, most immediate [international terrorism] threat to the United States.”
However, she added, “The FBI is most concerned about lone offender attacks - primarily shootings - as they have served as the dominant lethal mode for domestic violent extremist attacks. More deaths were caused by domestic violent extremists than international terrorists in recent years.”
Once again, AlertsUSA urges readers to maintain an increased level of situational awareness, particularly when in large public events and religious gatherings.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.