United States Department of Homeland Security

On Wednesday the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin warning of a "heightened threat environment across the United States" due to domestic terrorism.

The DHS alert is not meant to warn the public of any specific threat, but does outline what the department said is information that "suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence."

This threat comes after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. and the deployment of 25,000 National Guard troops to secure the peaceful transfer of power with the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden

The bulletin, which is set to expire on April 30, is the lowest alert that DHS publicizes, while an Elevated or Imminent Alert warn of a credible or credible and specific terrorism threat respectfully.

DHS reports that "Domestic Violent Extremists" have targeted those with opposing views, including individuals and groups who have engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protests.

DHS said that those engaging in violence or threats of violence have been motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force, some of which resulted in the plotting or execution of attacks against government facilities.

DHS also said that long-standing racial and ethnic tensions, including oppositions to immigration and immigration policies, have driven domestic extremism such as the 2019 Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people.

"DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities," the bulletin reads.

While the Capitol riot did in part spark the bulletin, an October 2020 Homeland Threat Assessment also called the threat of domestic lone wolf and small cell extremists the "primary terrorist threat inside the United States." 

In addition to potential threats against government facilities, DHS is also warning of potential threats of violence against critical infrastructure including the nation's electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, which DHS said increased in 2020 "with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions."

"DHS remains committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, identity or political views," the bulletin reads, adding that the department encourages state and local homeland security partners to continue to prioritize physical security measures, especially in the safety of people, government facilities and critical infrastructure.

DHS recommends that citizens take personal safety precautions such as avoiding large crowds and keeping up to date with local law enforcement and personal safety alerts. 

It also asks that citizens report report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online activity, to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices or their local Fusion Center.

"Your choice can make a difference. Choose non-violent ways to make your voice heard and support friends and family in doing the same," the bulletin reads. "Communities are strongest when they are not divided: Strengthen your community by standing together against violence."

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