US says there is 'heightened threat environment' across country

Lalit K Jha
·2-min read

Washington, Jan 27 (PTI) The US on Wednesday issued a national terrorism advisory system bulletin, saying there is currently a 'heightened threat environment' across the country that is likely to persist over the coming weeks.

The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security issued the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin after consultation with the intelligence community and law enforcement partners, a media release said.

“There is currently a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks,” it said.

The Department of Homeland Security, it said, does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot; however, violent riots have continued in recent days.

“We remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances and ideological causes fuelled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence,” said the advisory bulletin.

According to the advisory, throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity.

DVEs motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities, it said.

Long-standing racial and ethnic tension — including opposition to immigration — has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people, it said.

DHS said that these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6 breach of the US Capitol Building in Washington to target elected officials and government facilities.

It expressed concern that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.

“Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions,” it said. PTI LKJ SCY SCY