The United States is on high alert for possible terrorist attacks due to the prevalence of conspiracy theories online and misinformation in social media forums.
Monday’s updated National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin was issued by the Department of Homeland Security. It warned that although many of the top threat streams have not changed much over the past year almost all of them are being amplified in the information environment.
DHS stated that the “volatility, unpredictability and complexity of the threat climate” has been exacerbated by the proliferation of false narratives designed to undermine trust in public institutions.
The DHS bulletin updates specifically mentions the “widespread internet proliferation of false and misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread Election Fraud and COVID-19”, which it claims is being amplified through “malign external powers.”
The bulletin warns of violence against soft targets and gatherings that have limited security, such as churches, mosques, and synagogues.
According to the bulletin, “The recent attack against a synagogue, Colleyville, Texas highlights violence based on racial and religious motivations as well as threats towards faith-based organizations.”
Bulletin stated that recent threats to historically Black colleges and universities “cause concern” and could inspire extremist threat actors, to mobilize to violence.
Officials are also concerned about domestic violence in the lead-up to 2022 midterm election in November. There is also the possibility of foreign terrorists, particularly those who sympathize with the Islamic State group, launching attacks in retaliation to the death last week of IS leader Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla.
Alejandro Mayorkas from Homeland Security said Monday that the DHS is committed to sharing timely intelligence and information on the evolving threat environment with Americans.
He said, “We also remain committed in working with our partners across all levels of government and the private sector to prevent any forms of terrorism or targeted violence and to support law enforcement efforts that keep our communities safe.”
In response to an increase in domestic terrorism cases, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it was creating a new unit.
According to the FBI, four domestic violent extremists committed attacks in 2021 that resulted in 13 deaths.
Unclassified U.S. intelligence assessments released last March warned of a broad threat of domestic extremists. They primarily focused their concern on small cells and lone offenders. However, they were concerned about a wide range of violent ideologies and were “galvanized” by recent political, and societal events.