The US Department of Homeland Security will perform an internal review to address the state of domestic violent extremism within its own ranks, the latest probe across federal law enforcement and US agencies in the wake of the Capitol insurrection amid a growing threat of white supremacist violence.
“Domestic violent extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on Monday. “As we work to safeguard our nation, we must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organisation. Hateful acts and violent extremism will not be tolerated within our department.”
The review follows a similar move from the Pentagon to study “prohibited extremist activities” and “extremist behaviour” within the US military.
Joe Biden has sought to place combatting domestic violence at the centre of his homeland security agenda.
In January, DHS issued a terror advisory bulletin that warned “ideologically motivated violent extremists” motivated by “perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives” could “continue to mobilise to incite or commit violence”. The warning remains in effect through 30 April.
A recently unclassified joint intelligence report – ordered within the president’s first days in office – determined that racially and ethnically motivated violence as well as violent militia groups present the “most lethal” threats in the US.
Perpetrators of racist violence are “most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks” against Americans, according to a report from Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the US Department of Justice.
Domestic violence extremists motivated by “a range of ideologies and galvanised by recent political and societal events” pose an “elevated threat” to the US in 2021, according to the report.
False narratives about the 2020 presidential election, the Capitol insurrection, and conspiracy theories and conditions related to the coronavirus pandemic “will almost certainly” fuel more violence in 2021, the agencies reported.
A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that a growing number of active-duty military personnel and reservists are participating in domestic terror attacks and plots – the number of service members involved in terror attacks surged to 6.4 per cent in 2020 from 1.5 per cent in 2019.
Federal, state and local law enforcement have come under increased scrutiny in the wake of the Capitol assault, in which dozens of police officers, public safety workers and military veterans were charged or linked to the attack.
Lawmakers have urged the FBI to investigate the state of white supremacism among federal law enforcement agencies.
FBI director Christopher Wray has also repeatedly testified to members of Congress that white supremacist violence remains the nation’s top domestic threat.