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Intel Officials: Violent Extremists Pose ‘Elevated Threat’ to US

March 18, 2021 by TWN Staff
Razor wire outside the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Violent extremists motivated by political grievances and racial biases pose an “elevated threat” to the U.S. homeland, according to an unclassified intelligence report released Wednesday.

The assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence echoes warnings made by other U.S. officials in the weeks since a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol left five people dead.

It suggests that so-called “enduring motivations” for domestic violence, including biases against minorities, have been exacerbated by “newer sociopolitical developments” such as ongoing narratives regarding fraud in the 2020 election and restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, have further increased the chance that violent extremists will act out this year.

The government defines domestic violent extremists as U.S.-based actors who conduct or threaten activities that endanger human life in violation of criminal law. These include efforts aimed at intimidating or coercing the civilian population, or influencing the policy of any level of government through mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

It goes on to state that merely advocating political or social positions, political activism, use of strong rhetoric, or a generalized philosophical embrace of violent tactics may not constitute violent extremism, and be constitutionally protected.

The report also states that the highest level of threat continues to be posed by lone offenders “because of their capacity for independent radicalization to violence, ability to mobilize discretely, and access to firearms.”

The full report follows a request by President Joe Biden for a threat assessment on the threat posed by white supremacists and other domestic extremists.

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