DHS issues warning on 'violent domestic extremists'

The World
A large group of rioting supporters of former President Donald Trump are show carrying Trump 2020 flags and climbing the stone wall of the US Capitol.

Rioting supporters of former President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the US Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday on the growing threat from “violent domestic extremists,” warning of the potential violence motivated by anti-government sentiment after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The bulletin marks a departure for DHS after what appeared to be inexperience and hesitancy during the Trump years to make such warnings about domestic threats from white supremacists and other extremist groups.

“Information 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,” reads the bulletin.

Though DHS didn’t mention specific plots or singled out extremists groups that might be behind any future attacks, the wording of the document indicates that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the past year motivated by anti-government grievances — including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force — and suggests that the Jan. 6 riot by Trump extremist supporters at the US Capitol may have emboldened extremists and set the stage for possible additional attacks.

It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event, but this particular bulletin is notable because it places the new Biden administration at the center of the debate over how to characterize politically motivated violent acts.

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