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The DHS newsletter warns of “diverse and challenging” terrorist threats ahead of the holidays

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While DHS is unaware of an imminent and credible threat, the public bulletin notes that the upcoming religious holidays and previously associated mass gatherings have served as potential targets for acts of violence.

The latest bulletin largely reflects the concerns included in the previous one August newsletter but it was aired to keep the public informed of ongoing threats facing the U.S., according to the department.
This is the fourth bulletin of the Biden administration’s National Counseling Terrorism System, which is broadcast regularly to inform the public and law enforcement about threats of national terrorism and telegraph the need to be alert and report suspicious activities.

The bulletin notes that pandemic-related stressors have contributed to rising tensions and social tensions, fueling several plots by domestic violent extremists.

These stressors “may contribute to more violence this and next year,” the bulletin says.

DHS is concerned that if a new variant of Covid-19 emerges and additional public health restrictions are imposed, violent anti-government extremists “could use the new restrictions as reasoning to address government officials or facilities or of public health “.

On some online platforms connected to domestic violent extremism, there has been a fairly consistent approach to public health restrictions imposed because of Covid-19 and content describing those restrictions as government excess, according to a senior official. of DHS.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has also affected the environment of the national threat. Foreign terrorist organizations and domestic extremists are likely to continue trying to inspire potential U.S. supporters to engage in violent activities, even taking advantage of recent events in Afghanistan, the bulletin says.

In addition, some national extremists have tried to use it relocation of Afghan nationals in the US to aggravate the grievances about immigration and the American Muslim community.

The potential for conspiracy theory-fueled violence also remains a major concern for the department.

According to the bulletin, law enforcement officials have expressed concern that the widespread exchange of false narratives and conspiracy theories that support the use of violence continues to gain strength.

The online activity of foreign and domestic threat actors is fueling the volatility of the current threat environment, the DHS senior official said.

“We continue to be concerned about the use of online platforms by national extremist organizations, foreign terrorist groups, foreign intelligence services as they seek to spread conspiracy theories, misinformation for the express purpose of inspiring acts of violence. in the United States, ”the official said. of the newsletter.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week, DHS Counter-Terrorism Coordinator John Cohen said the department has placed more emphasis on analyzing threats of online violence. a la following the January 6 attack at the United States Capitol.

“We have leaned much further when it comes to analyzing online activity and evaluating activity from the perspective of the potential risk of violence,” he said.

Cohen told the committee that DHS is “much more aware and aware” of incorporating this threat-related information into operational planning.

He cited Opening Day as an example. Law enforcement response to the Inauguration Day “was very different” from weeks earlier, he said, and included physical security measures in and around the Capitol and other places, as well as a very visible presence of the National Guard and law enforcement in Washington, DC. , and state capitals across the country.

Comments on Inauguration Day on social media and extremist platforms reflected an understanding of these security measures and a reluctance to come to Washington, Cohen said, adding that “those who were planning acts of violence they saw it as a trap for their arrest or to see them. “This is not the right time to come and take part because of the security presence.”

The lesson of this, he said, is that the DHS analysis has focused more on understanding when there may be a possible act of violence and then taking steps, sometimes very visible, to create security measures that serve as a deterrent.

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