- In a report released in the wake of the violent siege on the US Capitol, US intelligence agencies warned that violent extremists with “political grievances” are likely to pose the “greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.”
- The report said the Capitol siege is viewed as a success by some extremists and will likely inspire more violence, particularly against lawmakers, journalists, law enforcement, and racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
- The report also directly linked unsubstantiated beliefs about election fraud to the likely increase in violence.
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In a report released in the wake of the violent siege on the US Capitol, US intelligence agencies warned that violent extremists with “political grievances” are likely to pose the “greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.”
The Joint Intelligence Bulletin, which was obtained by Yahoo News, was produced by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
The report says the violent breach of the Capitol “very likely will serve as a significant driver of violence” for “domestic violent extremists.”
“In 2021, threats and plotting of illegal activity, including the destruction of property and violence targeting officials at all levels of the government, law enforcement, journalists, and infrastructure” are very likely to increase, the report says.
It also names “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists,” “militia violent extremists,” and extremists who follow QAnon conspiracy theories as likely threats.
The report is dated January 13, one week after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to contest the results of the election, causing lawmakers to evacuate and resulting in five deaths.
One of those deaths included Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of President Donald Trump who was shot and killed by law enforcement while participating in the riots.
The intelligence report said the death of one of the rioters, presumably a reference to Babbitt, could further motivate extremists who “consider the death of a perceived like-minded individual as an act of martyrdom.”
The Capitol siege has been widely condemned by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and has resulted in the second impeachment for Trump, after the House passed the articles Wednesday accusing the president of an “incitement of insurrection.”
The Senate will soon hold a trial to determine whether to convict and remove Trump, though that outcome is unlikely and would probably occur after Trump has already left office.
During the riots, the president did not condemn the violence at the Capitol and told those participating: “go home, we love you, you are very special.” He has since spoken out against the violence, saying those who broke the law “will pay.”
But the intelligence report says some extremists view the insurrection as a success, and are likely encouraged by it, saying it could also galvanize “more sporadic, lone actor” violence against common targets like “racial, ethnic, or religious minorities and institutions, law enforcement, and government buildings and officials.
It also says members of the press are likely to be targeted, citing the treatment of journalists during the breach by the rioters.
The report explicitly ties unsubstantiated beliefs about a fraudulent election to a likely increase in violence, particularly threats to elected officials. It also echoed earlier reports that calls for violence related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have increased since the Capitol riots.
The Capitol riots are likely to be part of a trend where extremists “exploit lawful protests, rallies, demonstrations, and other gatherings to carry our ideologically-motivated violence and criminal activity,” the report says.
The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center did not respond to Insider’s request for comment Wednesday evening.