Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletin warning the public of a "heightened threat environment" across the United States following last week's presidential inauguration. The advisory, which comes after the on January 6, runs through the end of April.
"Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence," DHS said in issuing the bulletin.
Since 2015, the Department of Homeland Security has used the NTAS bulletin to identify "homegrown terrorists" inspired by foreign states or terrorist groups. This is the first time the department has issued a bulletin about a threat to the homeland that is wholly domestic, originating from what it terms "Domestic Violent Extremists" or DVEs.
A DHS bulletin describes current developments or trends about terrorism threats, and is not to be confused with an elevated alert, which warns of a credible terrorism threat, or an imminent alert, which warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorism threat.
DHS explained that domestic violent extremists have been targeting people with opposing views over the last year, motivated by everything from anger over COVID-19 restrictions to the 2020 election results.
In 2019, in response to a report by The Daily Beast that the department had decreased its domestic terrorism-related intelligence gathering, DHS denied this was the case but that it had "restructured" the team that once fed information about domestic terrorism and white supremacist groups to local police departments. Some former department officials told CBS News at the time that the unit wasn't disbanded but "gutted" at the worst time — as threats from domestic terrorists and white supremacist groups increased.
Congressman Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the "domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years."
"I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists, and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people," Thompson said in a statement. "... The NTAS is just one tool DHS has to keep us safe and informed. I hope this is the first step of many to rein in violent domestic terrorists who were emboldened over the last 4 years. There is no place in our society for their violence or their lies."
Thompson used his statement to say the Senate "must move quickly to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of Homeland Security."
Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.
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