The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a new terrorism advisory Wednesday, saying “violent extremists” are driving up the threat environment in the U.S. to further their ideological beliefs and person grievances.
The bulletin, set to expire Nov. 24, is the eighth released in 2021 and replaces one that expired today. It comes as mass shootings, attacks on infrastructure and other violent crimes have continued to grip the country.
DHS says lone offenders and small groups “motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances” continue to post a threat. Here is a list of incidents the DHS mentioned as it released the bulletin:
- In March 2023, a now-deceased individual shot and killed six people at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. Law enforcement continues to investigate the motive behind the attack and has indicated the individual studied other mass murderers.
- Also in March 2023, a RMVE driven by a belief in the superiority of the white race was arrested and charged with allegedly attempting to use an improvised incendiary device to burn down a church in Ohio that was planning to host a drag-themed event.
- In May 2023, a now-deceased individual killed eight and injured seven others at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas. Law enforcement continues to investigate the motive behind the attack, but initial reporting suggests the attacker fixated on mass shootings and held views consistent with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist (RMVE) and involuntary celibate violent extremist ideologies.
- In February 2023, two RMVEs driven by a belief in the superiority of the white race were arrested and are now awaiting trial for plotting an attack against electrical substations in Maryland. These arrests followed a series of recent attacks against electrical infrastructure, which some DVEs have praised and leveraged to call for more attacks on critical infrastructure.
- Since spring of 2022, alleged DVEs in Georgia have cited anarchist violent extremism, animal rights/environmental violent extremism, and anti-law enforcement sentiment to justify criminal activity in opposition to a planned public safety training facility in Atlanta. Criminal acts have included an alleged shooting and assaults targeting law enforcement and property damage targeting the facility, construction companies, and financial institutions for their perceived involvement with the planned facility.
- Meanwhile, foreign terrorists continue to use media to call for lone offender attacks in the West, condemn U.S. foreign policy, and attempt to expand their reach and grow global support networks. In January, an individual from Maine who was inspired by a variety of foreign terrorist content was charged with federal crimes for an attack on New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square.
“Both domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those associated with foreign terrorist organizations continue to attempt to motivate supporters to conduct attacks, including through violent extremist messaging and online calls for violence,” DHS says.
In the coming months, the department expects the threat environment to remain active and some individuals will be motivated to violence by “perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues.”
DHS believes U.S. critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals lor events associated with the LGBTQIA+-community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel are likely targets of potential violence.
DHS says it’s working with partners in government, the private sector and in local communities to keep the country safe, including the following:
- DHS and its federal partners, launched the Prevention Resource Finder (PRF) website in March 2023 -- a comprehensive web repository of federal resources available to help communities understand, mitigate, and protect themselves from targeted violence and terrorism.
- The DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships continues to engage a coalition of faith-based and community organizations, including members of the Faith-based Security Advisory Council (FBSAC) to build the capacity of faith-based and community organizations seeking to protect their places of worship and community spaces.
- DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center jointly updated behavioral indicators of U.S. extremist mobilization to violence. I&A’s National Threat Evaluation and Reporting Program continues to provide tools and resources for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners on preventing terrorism and targeted violence, including online suspicious activity reporting training.
- DHS’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program (I-STEP) and Exercise Information System (EXIS) work with government and private sector partners – including owners and operators of critical transportation infrastructure – to enhance security and reduce risks posed by acts of terrorism.
- DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) works with government and private sector partners – including owners and operators of critical infrastructure and public gathering places – to enhance security and mitigate risks posed by acts of terrorism and targeted violence through its network of Protective Security Advisors and resources addressing Active Shooters, School Safety, Bombing Prevention, and Soft Targets-Crowded Places.
- DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) educates and trains stakeholders on how to identify indicators of radicalization to violence, where to seek help, and the resources that are available to prevent targeted violence and In 2022, CP3 awarded about $20 million in grants through its Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program. To date, over 100 applicants and more than $50 million in grant funds have been requested for the FY23 grant cycle.
- In 2021, 2022, and 2023 DHS designated domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within its Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), enabling our partners to access critical funds that help prevent, prepare for, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from related threats.
- In 2022, DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) provided over $250 million in funding to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements to non-profit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack.
- Schoolsafety.gov consolidates school safety-related resources from across the government. Through this website, the K-12 academic community can also connect with school safety officials and develop school safety plans.