In a national counter-terrorism bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security warned that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could lead to ongoing violent attacks.
“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 bulletin reads.
Issued by DHS’s National Terrorism Advisory System, the notice warned that the relative success of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt in breaching the Capitol building may have “emboldened” extremists to “target elected officials and government facilities.”
The bulletin itself is a striking example of how far the threat of political violence in the U.S. has gone, in the aftermath of an attack on the Democratic process that left five dead.
The Biden administration has emphasized in its first week that addressing the threat of far-right extremism will be a priority, though the fact that the extremist movement in question is closely tied up with the last President leaves many counterterrorism experts confounded about the best approach.
The bulletin also notes that violent extremists are motivated by “anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.”
The Jan. 6 attack has sparked fears of a nascent pro-Trump insurgency among those who believe the myth that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
The concerns go to lingering questions over whether those who believe the myth will merge with far-right, white supremacist extremists that are ready and willing to commit acts of violence.
The bulletin emphasized that “a heightened threat environment” across the country “will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential inauguration.”
DHS added that threats could be posed to government buildings around the country, as well as to “critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors.”
The Biden administration is staffing up to ascertain the threat and develop a plan to address the threat of far-right extremism.
Since the Jan. 6 attack, the FBI has moved to crack down on those who participated in the insurrection. And while more attacks on federal and state buildings were expected in the days after the Jan. 6 attack, none materialized amid a beefed up law enforcement response.
But the DHS bulletin warns of a longer fight, with the threat of violence looming for months into the future.