On Friday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released an advisory summarizing the current terrorism threat, and mentioned “grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions” as potential threats.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security has issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the current heightened threat environment across the United States. The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment leading up to and following the 20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well religious holidays we assess could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence,” the department wrote. “These threats include those posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences. These actors are increasingly exploiting online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity. Such threats are also exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions.”
Under the “additional details” heading, the department wrote:
Through the remainder of 2021, racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States. These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks. Pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions, driving several plots by domestic violent extremists, and they may contribute to more violence this year.
This was the first bullet point in this section, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorism attacks on New York City.
The pandemic is a more common thread in the department’s assessment than foreign terrorists, even though the Taliban has been gaining ground in Afghanistan. The department also warned of “false narratives and conspiracy theories,” though it did allude to anti-police sentiment as well.
“Law enforcement have expressed concerns that the broader sharing of false narratives and conspiracy theories will gain traction in mainstream environments, resulting in individuals or small groups embracing violent tactics to achieve their desired objectives. With a diverse array of threats, DHS is concerned that increased outbreaks of violence in some locations, as well as targeted attacks against law enforcement, may strain local resources,” the department wrote.
DHS said it was responding to these threats by continuing “to identify and evaluate calls for violence, including online activity associated with the spread of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives, by known or suspected threat actors and provide updated information, as necessary.”
The DHS memo follows multiple claims from the Biden administration that “white supremacy” is the biggest threat to America.