Most Significant Threat Facing America…Domestic Extremists?

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With a sense of imminence regarding a Supreme Court ruling on abortion, and an increase of migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, the midterm elections are likely to be catalytic for extremist violence over the next six months, according to some experts with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Just this week, the United States was in a “heightened threat environment,” and these things should get even worse according to the DHS in the most recent National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin.

“In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets,” DHS said.

Homeland Security is drawing attention to the threat that comes from domestic violent extremism, which is a shift from the original intent of the organization. It started after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and continued to focus on international terrorism. But now, overseas threats only rate passing mentions in their bulletins, while the focus is on domestic threats.

There is a mention in recent bulletins that al-Qaida supporters celebrated when there was a standoff at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. And it briefly mentions that the Islamic State group rallied supporters to carry out attacks in America to avenge the killing of the group’s leader and spokesperson.

The DHS does give a warning about how other nations like China, Russia, and Iran are trying to create divisions in the United States to weaken the nation and our standing in the world. They plan to create conspiracy theories and false reports that spread through the culture of America.

The most significant and potentially violent threat, according to the DHS, is domestic violent extremists. They use as an example the racist attack in which a white gunman killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York supermarket in May.

The bulletin from the DHS is set to expire on November 30 and projects that violence by domestic extremists will be aimed at democratic institutions, candidates, and election workers. These actions will likely increase through the fall.

Some have actually praised the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and have called for more attacks like this one.

Brian Harrell, a former assistant secretary at DHS, wrote, “The alert highlights the fact that society is becoming more violent every single day. Would-be criminals and domestic terrorists will always use the path of least resistance, and often times soft targets and crowded places are picked for this violence.”

A senior official at the DHS told reporters before the bulletin was released that the situation was “dynamic” because those in charge are seeing a wider variety of people charged up by a broader range of grievances than in the past.

The impending decision by the Supreme Court that could overturn Roe v. Wade may lead to violence from either extremist supporters or opponents of abortion rights. It will all depend on the outcome of the High Court’s decision. This is according to one official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Immigration concerns could motivate some racial extremists to action, too. A lot will depend on whether the government continues to use Title 42, the public health order that has been used since the beginning of the pandemic to prevent people from seeking asylum at the southern border.

For the next several months, the DHS will be working with the FBI to help state and local law enforcement to raise awareness of the threats. The DHS has increased grant funding to local governments and religious organizations to improve security, according to a statement from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

For the last half of this year, the threat level will remain high.