A new intelligence report delivered to Congress recently by the Biden administration warned about the rising threat of militias and white supremacists, adding urgency to calls for more resources to fight the growing problem of homegrown extremism in the United States.
In particular, the intelligence assessment highlighted the threat from militias, predicting that it would be elevated in the coming months because of “contentious sociopolitical factors,” likely a reference to the fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the increasingly partisan political climate.
Racially motivated violent extremists, such as white supremacists, were most likely to conduct mass casualty attacks against civilians, while militias typically targeted law enforcement and government personnel and facilities, the report said. Lone offenders or small cells of extremists were more likely than organizations to carry out attacks, it said.
President Joe Biden requested the comprehensive threat assessment shortly after he took office in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, which laid bare the toxic domestic extremism that has shaken the country. Only the brief executive summary was declassified and made public; a classified version was sent to Congress and the White House.
The top-line assessment echoed earlier analyses by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warning of the looming dangers of domestic terrorism, including after followers of former President Donald Trump embraced his baseless claims of election fraud. An internal FBI report that appeared to have been compiled before Jan. 6 and was published days after the breach predicted the violence to come, saying the events in 2020 were “likely to embolden U.S. domestic violent extremists in 2021.”
The Homeland Security Department also previously issued a rare terrorism bulletin warning that extremists continue to be galvanized over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives,” a clear reference to Trump’s false accusations that the election was stolen.
Domestic extremism “poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to the homeland today,” Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security secretary, told a House committee.
“The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and on American democracy is a searing example of this threat,” Mayorkas said.
The FBI said in statement that the “threat is persistent and evolving.”