National Security

DHS warns of heightened risk posed by domestic violent extremists

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday warned the U.S. may face heightened threats from "ideologically-motivated violent extremists" in the wake of President Biden's inauguration.

DHS warned that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) would continue to express opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and "other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives."

"DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities," the agency wrote in a bulletin, using shorthand for domestic violent extremists.

The bulletin was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske, as Biden's pick to lead the agency, former Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, has seen his nomination stall in the Senate. 

The bulletin, which will be in place until April 30, is the lowest-level type of advisory issued by the department, warning of general trends rather than specific credible threats.

The notice also warns of the potential for continued attacks on infrastructure, a nod to a plot to attack the power grid that was foiled by the FBI

"Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions," the bulletin said.