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Department of Homeland Security Warns of 'Heightened Threat Environment,' Potential Attacks at 'Public Gatherings, Faith-Based Institutions, Schools'

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The Department of Homeland Security warned Tuesday that the nation “remains in a heightened threat environment” and could become more dynamic in the following months, with foreign actors working to undermine American society and the risk of more violence against individuals and institutions nationwide.

“In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic,” the DHS said in its Tuesday National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin. In the months ahead, “Several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets,” the bulletin stated.

The range of potential targets, according to the DHS, includes “public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media and perceived ideological opponents.”

The threat actors, according to the agency, “have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism.”

“We continue to assess that the primary threat of mass casualty violence in the United States stems from lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances,” the DHS said.

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As examples of lone offenders’ attacks against “minority communities, schools, houses of worship and mass transit,” it cited the recent shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; the New York City subway and Laguna Woods, California. The DHS said that the listed attacks demonstrated the dynamic nature of the nation’s threat environment.

“The continued proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding current events could reinforce existing personal grievances or ideologies, and in combination with other factors, could inspire individuals to mobilize to violence,” the DHS further stated.

The agency warned that as the nation witnesses political events, such as the Biden administration’s mismanagement of the nation’s borders, the Supreme Court case on abortion and the lead-up to the mid-term elections, threat actors could incite and carry out violence against the government, religious institutions and those they disagree with.

“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,” the agency said.

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“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,” the DHS noted.

As for the Supreme court case on abortion, the DHS said 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 debate on abortion recently captivated the nation after Politico in May, published a draft majority opinion that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote, which suggested that the nation’s highest court could repeal Roe v. Wade.

News of the leak threw pro-abortion activists into a meltdown, with some radical pro-abortionists doxxing the addresses of Supreme Court Justices and calling for demonstrations near the Justices’ homes.

The DHS assessed that “calls for violence by domestic violent extremists directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events and election workers will likely increase” with the midterm elections ahead.

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In addition to the domestic threats, the DHS said, threats are also likely to come from state and non-state foreign actors.

“Following the January 2022 hostage situation at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, ISIS and al-Qa’ida supporters released statements celebrating the hostage taker for bringing attention to the issue of a federally convicted female al-Qa’ida supporter,” the DHS said.

The supporters of the terrorist outfits “suggested the event could serve as inspiration for future attackers. Foreign terrorist organizations will likely continue to use online platforms to attempt to inspire U.S.-based individuals to engage in violent activity,” the agency noted.

The agency further noted that the “pro-al-Qa’ida Malahem Cyber Army” has called for Al-Qaida supporters “to travel to Ukraine to acquire training and weapons to use in attacks against the West.”

“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 added.

“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,” the agency said.

Some of the ways these influence actors, especially Russia, have carried out their operations in the country, according to the DHS, has been through amplifying “conspiracy theories alleging U.S. responsibility for the Russia-Ukraine crisis and claiming U.S. support for bio-weapons labs abroad.”

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Andrew Jose is a freelance reporter covering security, U.S. politics, and foreign policy, among other beats. He has bylines in several outlets, notably the Daily Caller, Jewish News Syndicate, and the Times of Israel.
Andrew Jose is a freelance reporter covering security, U.S. politics, and foreign policy, among other beats. He has bylines in several outlets, notably the Daily Caller, Jewish News Syndicate, and the Times of Israel. Speak to Andrew securely via Follow Andrew on Twitter: @realAndrewJose
Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service
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