The United States will face heightened threats from violent extremists emboldened by the assault on the Capitol for weeks, according to a rare national terrorism warning released Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security.
“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,” the terrorism bulletin said.
The breach may have encouraged domestic extremists to target elected officials and government facilities, according to the advisory, which was issued by the acting secretary of homeland security, David Pekoske. (President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.)
The extremists are motivated by issues including coronavirus restrictions, the results of the 2020 election, police use of force and a strong opposition to immigration, according to the agency.
“DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021,” the warning said.
Despite the ongoing threats and the near disruption of the peaceful transfer of power, some public officials have sought to encourage a return to normalcy. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser posted a tweet Wednesday encouraging residents to tell business owners to take down boards that had been put up in anticipation of the riots.
The Homeland Security Department will periodically release bulletins to the public to warn of potential threats to national security. But the decision to release a warning about the threat of domestic terrorism is a pivot from the Trump administration, in which some White House officials sought to suppress even the use of the phrase “domestic terrorism.”
A former homeland security intelligence chief also said in a whistleblower complaint filed in September that President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Department directed analysts to downplay the threat of white supremacy in a threat assessment that had been delayed for months. The threat report eventually singled out white supremacy as a lethal threat after the whistleblower complaint prompted backlash from Congress.