National Security

DHS terror bulletin paints bleak picture following mass shootings

Cat Perez, 39, lays flowers at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Monday, May 30, 2022, to honor the victims killed in last week’s school shooting. Photographs of the victims, from left, show Layla Salazar, McKenna Lee Elrod, Jayce Carmelo Luevanos and Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After a particularly violent month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning the threats the U.S. faces are only expected to become more “dynamic” as domestic extremists eye more vulnerable targets.

“Several recent violent attacks by lone offenders against minority communities, schools, houses of worship, and mass transit have demonstrated the dynamic and complex nature of the threat environment facing the United States,” the agency wrote in a terrorism advisory bulletin posted Tuesday. 

The bulletin, updated every few months, is the first since gunmen opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., and at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

“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,” the DHS wrote, noting schools, houses of worship and minority groups could all be targeted.

The bulletin outlines an unnerving picture of the online content promoting such violence, noting that the primary threat continues to stem from lone actors and other small groups.

“Individuals in online forums that routinely promulgate domestic violent extremist and conspiracy theory-related content have praised the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and encouraged copycat attacks,” the DHS wrote.

News surrounding divisive issues could also serve as a motivator for attacks among domestic extremists.

The DHS again warned the U.S. debate surrounding abortion rights could prompt violence, noting that “individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies.”

The DHS for the first time this year also issued a warning over border politics possibly serving as a motivating factor behind violence.

“Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances related to their perception that the U.S. government is unwilling or unable to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and have called for violence to stem the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States,” according to the bulletin.

“We assess that there is increased risk of domestic violent extremists using changes in border security-related policies and/or enforcement mechanisms to justify violence against individuals, such as minorities and law enforcement officials involved in the enforcement of border security.”

While the bulk of the bulletin warns of the risks posed by those already in the U.S., it touches on the determination of foreign adversaries to sow discord in the U.S.

The DHS reported that ISIS and al Qaeda supporters “released statements celebrating the hostage taker” who hit a Texas synagogue earlier this year. The agency also described “pro-al-Qa‘ida and ISIS users” celebrating an April attack on the New York City subway system that is still under investigation.

Efforts to promote division are only expected to intensify leading up to the midterm elections this fall. 

“Chinese, Iranian, Russian, and other foreign malign influence actors have sought to contribute to U.S. internal discord and weaken its focus and position internationally,” The DHS wrote.  

“These actors have amplified narratives that radicalized individuals have cited to justify violence, including conspiracy theories and false or misleading narratives promoting U.S. societal division.”

Tags Department of Homeland Security DHS Domestic violence gun deaths gun violence Mass shootings

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