The Department of Homeland Security issued a new national terrorism advisory late Wednesday ahead of the upcoming holidays which could be “potential targets for acts of violence.”
The updated National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin specifies threats from “individuals and small groups engaged in violence, including domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences.”
The bulletin says these individuals are using online forums “to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity,” which is worsened by “perceived government overreach in implementation of public health safety measures” amid the pandemic.
The DHS did note that it was not aware of any credible or immediate threats to any specific location as of Wednesday, but added that it expects “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists” to continue posing a threat to the U.S. into 2022.
The bulletin specified areas of heightened risk that have been targeted by prior attacks, such as houses of worship, public gatherings, and commercial facilities, where crowds would be gathered, and a potential mass casualty situation could occur.
The DHS said it is providing guidance and intelligence assessments to state and local partners, and is “engaging industry partners to help them identify and respond to the spread of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives on social media and other online platforms.”
The agency also calls on the public to report suspicious activities, threats of violence, and online threats to law enforcement.
DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said, “Today, we are issuing the fourth NTAS Bulletin since January 2021. The threat stream has not changed significantly; however this is an important product that keeps the public updated about threats facing the United States and underscores the importance of the public to staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
In June, the White House announced President Joe Biden’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, a first-of-its-kind, four-pillared approach to improving how domestic terrorism is defined, identified, and combated. The strategy’s main aim is to target those with racist or anti-government ideology, which the administration says is espoused by domestic terrorists.
“Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the white race) and militia violent extremists are assessed as presenting the most persistent and lethal threats,” the strategy says.