Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland
The Secretary of Homeland Security has issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the current heightened threat environment across the United States. The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment leading up to and following the 20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well religious holidays that could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence. These threats include those posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences. Such threats are also exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions.Read this Bulletin translated into various languages.
Duration: Issued: August 13, 2021, 02:00 pm and Expires: November 11, 2021, 02:00 pm
The State of Things, What is Driving the Heightened Threat?
We all see it every day. The state of things. The world as we know it, everywhere, is in some form of disruption. The pandemic has been ongoing for over 18-months, the economy is in flux, inflation is raging, and mental health is declining for a large portion of the population. Here is some information of particular importance:
- The emergence of COVID-19 variants is being viewed by some as a potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States. Pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions and they may contribute to more violence this year.
- Historically, mass-casualty domestic attacks have targeted houses of worship and crowded commercial facilities or gatherings.
- 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.
- In the lead-up to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Al-Qa’ida has recently released its first English-language copy of Inspire magazine in over four years. This demonstrates that foreign terrorist organizations continue efforts to inspire U.S.-based individuals susceptible to violent extremist influences.
- Some extremists advocate via online platforms for a race war and have stated that civil disorder provides opportunities to engage in violence in furtherance of ideological objectives.
- Foreign and domestic threat actors, to include foreign intelligence services, international terrorist groups, and domestic violent extremists, continue to introduce, amplify, and disseminate narratives online that promote violence and have called for violence against:
- elected officials,
- political representatives,
- government facilities,
- law enforcement,
- religious communities or
- commercial facilities, and
- perceived ideologically-opposed individuals.
- There are also continued, non-specific calls for violence on multiple online platforms associated with ideologies on perceived election fraud and alleged reinstatement, and responses to anticipated restrictions relating to the increasing COVID cases.
- Ideologically motivated violent extremists fueled by personal grievances and extremist ideological beliefs continue to derive inspiration and obtain operational guidance through the consumption of information shared in certain online communities. This includes information regarding the use of improvised explosive devices and small arms.
- Violent extremists may use particular messaging platforms or techniques to obscure operational indicators that provide specific warnings of a pending act of violence.
- Law enforcement has expressed concerns that the broader sharing of false narratives and conspiracy theories will gain traction in mainstream environments, resulting in individuals or small groups embracing violent tactics to achieve their desired objectives. With a diverse array of threats, DHS is concerned that increased outbreaks of violence in some locations, as well as targeted attacks against law enforcement, may strain local resources.
- Nation-state adversaries have increased efforts to sow discord.
- The international terror threat changed overnight as Afghanistan fell to Taliban control.
How DHS is Responding
- DHS will continue to identify and evaluate calls for violence, including online activity associated with the spread of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives, by known or suspected threat actors and provide updated information, as necessary.
- DHS continues to encourage the public to maintain awareness of the evolving threat environment and report suspicious activity.
- DHS is coordinating with state and local law enforcement and public safety partners to maintain situational awareness of potential violence in their jurisdictions and maintain open lines of communication with federal partners.
- DHS is also advancing authoritative sources of information to debunk and, when possible, preempt false narratives and intentional disinformation, and providing educational materials to promote resilience to the risks associated with interacting with and spreading disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives.
- More broadly, DHS remains committed to identifying and preventing terrorism and targeted violence. All while protecting the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of all people.
How You Can Respond
- Be Prepared and Stay Informed
- Be prepared for emergency situations and remain aware of circumstances that may place you at risk.
- Make note of your surroundings and the nearest security personnel.
- Government agencies will provide details about emerging threats as information is identified. The public is encouraged to listen to local authorities and public safety officials.
- Implement technology to expedite emergency response should crisis strike.
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Always remember to report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online threats, to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or local Fusion Center. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues or who may be a danger to themselves or others, support is available.