DHS warns of heightened risk for attacks ahead of 9/11 anniversary

DHS warns of heightened risk for attacks ahead of 9/11 anniversary
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning of a heightened threat environment leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

A Friday bulletin from DHS said that while domestic extremism still poses a high threat in the U.S., the anniversary of the attacks could also serve as a motivator for foreign terror groups.

“The 20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well [as] religious holidays we assess could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence,” the department wrote in the bulletin.

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“Leading up to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula recently released its first English-language copy of Inspire magazine in over four years, which demonstrates that foreign terrorist organizations continue efforts to inspire U.S.-based individuals susceptible to violent extremist influences,” it stated.

The bulletin noted several areas that could spur violence from domestic extremists, with racially motivated and anti-government extremists possibly spurred to action by the pandemic.

“These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks,” the bulletin stated. 

“The reopening of institutions, including schools, as well as several dates of religious significance over the next few months, could also provide increased targets of opportunity for violence though there are currently no credible or imminent threats identified to these locations.”

The DHS warning also noted disinformation campaigns underway by several U.S. adversaries.

“Russian, Chinese and Iranian government-linked media outlets have repeatedly amplified conspiracy theories concerning the origins of COVID-19 and effectiveness of vaccines; in some cases, amplifying calls for violence targeting persons of Asian descent,” the bulletin stated.

The memo comes on the heels of a CNN report indicating the Biden administration has been receiving regular reports that Russia’s efforts to disrupt U.S. elections are ongoing and advancing.

The bulletin remains in effect through Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11.