The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin on Wednesday (January 27) warning that the country faces a rising threat of domestic terrorism.
The bulletin details that the threat is directly related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which the agency believes emboldened extremists and white supremacist groups.
“The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin due to a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration,” the notice reads.
“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 agency put the warning into effect until April 30 of this year.
The department didn’t name specific groups, nor did they indicate a “specific, credible plot” but released the bulletin to provide information on trends in threats to the country.
An intelligence official who helped draft the bulletin told The New York Times that the department was motivated to release it because “the intent to engage in violence has not gone away” even though President Joe Biden’s inauguration was completed successfully.
Under Donald Trump’s administration, the DHS and other law enforcement agencies were accused of routinely withholding information about security threats by domestic terrorists or white supremacists groups.
Current and former DHS officials said withholding the information was done out of fear of angering Trump.
Former officials who worked under Trump have even stated that officials in the White House didn’t want to use the term “domestic terrorism,” and tried to suppress its use.
In September 2019, DHS officials identified white supremacist groups as the nation’s top domestic terrorism threat, but say their warnings were either diluted, delayed, and sometimes, both.
In 2009, a warning from the DHS about the potential for returning military veterans’ susceptibility to being recruited to extremist groups sparked backlash from conservatives, which forced then- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to apologize. The report was reissued after a retraction and edits were made.
“It was an early lesson in how fraught dealing with these issues can be, but it turns out the report itself and the substance of the report was quite prescient,” Napolitano said.
“What we saw two weeks ago is what I think we were seeing in 2009, but it has only grown and it seems to have exploded in the last four years.”
President Biden is working to change the discourse around terror threats. Just this week, he asked for a thorough assessment of domestic extremism. Biden’s pick for Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said he would work to distinguish its reports from those of the FBI’s.
Michael Chertoff, a former secretary of homeland security during President George W. Bush’s presidency told the Times, “The truth is what has to come out of DHS. Not playing patty cake with political agendas.”
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