White supremacy threatens US and Islamic State, FBI told Congress
Federal law enforcement has again warned members of Congress that white supremacists and other domestic extremists pose as great a threat to the United States as Islamic State militants, a familiar warning to lawmakers after Repeated reviews have signaled the rise of racist violence and conspiracy theories that have proliferated online.
FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials also told lawmakers on November 3 that the attack on the United States Capitol led to changes in the way law enforcement examines online threats and their pressure to be more proactive against them.
“Covert collection may often not be necessary to capture valuable intelligence, but analysts must be able to distinguish (…) between constitutionally protected speech and threat-related activities,” said Wednesday Homeland Security Intelligence Officer John Cohen to members of a House intelligence subcommittee. .
FBI Deputy Director Timothy Langan, of the agency’s counterterrorism unit, said in his prepared remarks that the “greatest terrorist threat” to the United States comes from “isolated actors or small cells that stand in the way. generally radicalize online and seek to attack easy targets with easily accessible weapons, ”defined as domestic violent extremists and local violent extremists.
Domestic threats include individuals who “commit violent criminal acts in the pursuit of social or political goals arising from domestic influences – such as racial or ethnic prejudice, or anti-government or anti-authority sentiments” while “Local” threats emerge from individuals potentially linked to foreign groups “but do not receive individualized directives from these groups,” he explained.
He said the FBI was investigating around 2,700 cases related to domestic violent extremism following an increase in threats over the past 18 months.
The threats are motivated by a toxic mix of grievance-based violence as well as “prejudice against minorities, over-perception of the government, conspiracy theories favoring violence and false narratives often disseminated online,” Mr. Cohen in his prepared remarks.
So-called racially motivated violent extremists “espouse an overlapping mixture” of nationalist, white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies, he explained.
Their testimony is the latest in a series of federal law enforcement updates warning of potential threats of violence linked to conspiracy theory and political and cultural warfare.
The latest bulletin from the National Terrorism Advisory System, which was released in August and is due to expire on November 11, reports that “Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists … and anti-government / anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national priority for threatens. for the United States.
Foreign and domestic threats continue to “introduce, amplify and disseminate online narratives” that promote violence, including violence against elected officials, religious communities and perceived ideological and political opponents, according to DHS.
Officials also said that observed non-specific threats continue to come from conspiracy theories linked to Covid-19 and surrounding the baseless narrative of “stolen elections” promoted by Donald Trump and his allies.
“Law enforcement [has] expressed fears that the wider sharing of false narratives and conspiracy theories is gaining ground in traditional settings, which would prompt individuals or small groups to adopt violent tactics to achieve desired goals, ”according to the bulletin.