Department of Homeland Security Issues Terrorism Alert in Response to Domestic Extremism

Angelina Astic, Copy Editor

In a statement made on Jan. 27, 2021, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Pete Gaynor issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin. The Department of Homeland Security warns Americans of increasing threats from domestic extremists in response to the recent inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden. 

The alert, which was the DHS’s first use of the National Terrorism Advisory System in one year, raised the terrorism threat level due to surmounting threats since the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. Previously, the last alert, released on Jan. 4, 2020, addressed terrorism threats from Iran which threatened the safety of the U.S. and U.S. citizens. 

According to intelligence, many violent domestic extremists object to the recent presidential transition of power from the Trump to the Biden administration, hold anti-government beliefs and have “grievances fueled by false narratives.” Due to these ideological differences, the department believes that many of these individuals may resort to further violence. 

During 2020, the DHS noticed an increase in non-violent protests by Domestic Violent Extremists. These DVE’s had ideological disagreements with events like the handling of COVID-19 and the results of the 2020 election. Violent attacks have also occurred in the past, including the 2019 El Paso shooting. 

Homegrown Violent Extremists, individuals who draw “inspiration” from foreign terrorist organizations, remain on the DOH’s radar as well. Due to the increased spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation, many HVE’s have made numerous threats toward infrastructure relating to electricity, telephones and healthcare. 

This bulletin post, set to expire on Apr. 30, 2021 at 1:00 p.m., is part of the previously- mentioned National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin System, which was instituted in 2011 to replace color-coded alerts. These alerts, created as part of U.S efforts to heighten national security in a post-9/11 world, were originally known as the Homeland Security Advisory System. 

Officials ask that those who notice suspicious activity or violent threats report them to law enforcement. The DHS has also recommended that individuals avoid protests and that those who wish to protest do so safely and in compliance with COVID-19 health guidelines. 

If you notice suspicious activity, please report a tip to law enforcement, the FBI or local Fusion Center. In the event of an emergency, call 911.