After a particularly violent month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning that the threats facing the United States are only likely to become more “dynamic” as domestic extremists aim for softer targets.
“Several recent violent attacks by lone offenders on minority communities, schools, places of worship, and public transportation have demonstrated the dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment facing the United States,” wrote the agency in a terrorism news bulletin released on Tuesday.
The bulletin, updated every few months, is the first since gunmen opened fire on a grocery store in Buffalo, NY, and a school in Uvalde, Texas.
“In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as multiple high-profile events could be leveraged to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets,” DHS wrote, noting schools, places of worship and minority groups. could all be targeted.
The bulletin paints a disturbing picture of online content promoting such violence, noting that the main threat continues to come from lone actors and other small groups.
“Individuals in online forums that regularly post content related to domestic violent extremism and conspiracy theory praised the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and encouraged copycat attacks,” DHS wrote.
News about divisive issues could also serve as motivation for attacks among domestic extremists.
DHS again warned that the US abortion rights debate could incite violence, noting that “those advocating for and against abortion have, in public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive health personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies.
The DHS, for the first time this year, also issued a warning about border policy that may serve as a motivating factor behind the violence.
“Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances related to their perception that the US government is unwilling or unable to secure the US-Mexico border and have called for violence to stem the flow of undocumented migrants into the United States” , according to the newsletter.
“We assess that there is an increased risk that domestic violent extremists will use changes in border security policies and/or enforcement mechanisms to justify violence against individuals, such as minorities and officials. of law enforcement involved in border security enforcement.”
While much of the bulletin warns of the risks posed by those already in the United States, it speaks to the determination of foreign adversaries to sow discord in the United States.
The DHS reported that ISIS and al-Qaeda supporters “issued statements celebrating the hostage taker” who struck a Texas synagogue earlier this year. The agency also described “pro-al-Qaeda and ISIS users” celebrating an April attack on New York’s subway system that is still under investigation.
Efforts to promote division are only expected to intensify ahead of midterm elections this fall.
“Chinese, Iranian, Russian and foreign actors of malign influence have sought to contribute to internal discord in the United States and weaken its orientation and standing internationally,” DHS wrote.
“These actors have amplified the narratives that radicalized individuals have cited to justify the violence, including conspiracy theories and false or misleading narratives promoting the division of American society.”