National Security

Homeland Security report released after months-long delay lists white supremacists as ‘lethal’ threat

Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a report out Tuesday that white supremacists remain “the most persistent and lethal threat” in the country.

The report, which a whistleblower had said was being slow-walked by DHS to benefit President Trump, sounded the alarm over the threat of white supremacist groups, which has been exacerbated by heightened political tensions in the country.

“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years. I am proud of our work to prevent terrorizing tactics by domestic terrorists and violent extremists who seek to force ideological change in the United States through violence, death, and destruction,” wrote acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. 

The report said that, as a whole, domestic violent extremist (DVE) groups remain the largest security threat facing the country and that within that subset, white supremacist extremists (WSEs) are the most dangerous. 

“WSEs have demonstrated longstanding intent to target racial and religious minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, politicians, and those they believe promote multi-culturalism and globalization at the expense of the WSE identity,” the report reads. “Some WSEs have engaged in outreach and networking opportunities abroad with like-minded individuals to expand their violent extremist networks. Such outreach might lead to a greater risk of mobilization to violence, including traveling to conflict zones.”

Trump appeared to downplay the threat posed by the Proud Boys, a right-wing white nationalist militia, at last week’s debate, telling them to “stand back and stand by” when asked if he would denounce the group. He walked back the remarks two days later, saying he condemns the militia.

The report also takes aim at a recent wave of protests against systemic racism and police brutality, warning that anti-government groups could use them as cover to cause violence. While DHS did not specifically mention antifa, the loosely affiliated group of anarchists that has become a top boogeyman on the right, it did warn of danger from “anti-authority and anarchist violent extremism.”

DHS said it “began to see a new, alarming trend of exploitation of lawful protests causing violence, death, and destruction in American communities” while compiling the report, adding that “the co-opting of lawful protests led to destruction of government property and have turned deadly.”

Cities across the nation have been gripped by protests after the high-profile police killings of Black Americans. While most have remained peaceful, many have devolved into looting and violent clashes with law enforcement.

Regarding foreign threats, the report also underscored Russia as the chief nation working to spread disinformation and misinformation in the U.S. ahead of the election, also noting cyber threats from China, Iran and North Korea.

The long-anticipated release of the DHS report comes after Brian Murphy, who was demoted from his job as the department’s intelligence chief in August, said in a bombshell whistleblower complaint that the document’s publication was delayed amid concerns over how it would “reflect upon President Trump.”

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