US: Terrorism alert warns of violence driven by anti-government sentiment
The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin, on Wednesday warning of the violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the January 6 riot at the Capitol may have emboldened extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite specific plots but pointed to a heightened threat environment across the country.
Bulletin suggests violence aimed at overturning election akin to terrorism
It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect of violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department's National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it places Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe acts motivated by political ideology.
The document suggests that national security officials see a connection between recent violence and last year's anti-government grievances, including COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and the use of police force. It also singles out racially motivated acts of violence such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terrorist organizations.
False narratives may incite violence in people
"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, incite or commit violence," the bulletin said.
Potential for violence from ideologically-motivated actors: DHS
A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the election. DHS also noted violent riots in recent days are an apparent reference to events in Portland, Oregon, linked to anarchist groups.
Threat has been in front of us: Mississippi Democrat Thompson
"The attack on our Capitol threw light on a looming threat. I am glad that DHS recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is making efforts to communicate it to the people," said Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Calls to confirm Biden's pick for Homeland Security Secretary
The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden's nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not yet been confirmed. Two former Homeland Security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues.
Chertoff, who served under President George W Bush, said in a conference call with reporters, "Attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the US have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaeda."
More than 150 people charged for Capitol siege
Meanwhile, federal authorities have charged more than 150 people for the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges on Wednesday against Ian Rogers, 43, a California businessman found with five pipe bombs during a search this month and had a Three Percenters sticker on his vehicle.