The wording of the document suggests that national security officials see a connective thread between recent violence over the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, whether over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. It also singles out racially motivated acts of violence such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terrorist organisations.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives, could continue to mobilise to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said.
It did not mention any ideological or political affiliation, while noting the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.”
The alert comes at a tense time after the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who were seeking to overturn the presidential election. DHS also noted violent riots in “recent days,” an apparent reference to events in Portland, Oregon, linked to anarchist groups.
The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate.
Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues.
Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said in a conference call with reporters that attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the US have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaeda. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said.
Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers.
The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle.
His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organisations.