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On Friday, May 14, the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the current heightened threat environment across the United States.  The national alert is in effect as of May 14, through Aug. 13, 2021 and it focuses on the grievance-based threats of domestic terrorism.

It reads: “The Homeland is facing threats that have evolved significantly and become increasingly complex and volatile in 2021. These threats include those posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or influenced by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences.  Social media and online forums are increasingly exploited by these actors to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and activity.  Such threats also are exacerbated by the impacts from the ongoing global pandemic.”

The alert goes on to say that violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the United States to conduct attacks against a broader range of targets after previous public capacity limits reduced opportunities for lethal attacks.

According to the bulletin, historically, mass-casualty Domestic Violent Extremist (DVE) attacks linked to racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) have targeted houses of worship, government facilities, and crowded commercial facilities or gatherings. Some RMVEs advocate via social media and online platforms for a race war and have stated that civil disorder provides opportunities to engage in violence in furtherance of ideological objectives.

DVEs exploit Constitutionally-protected freedom of speech activity linked to racial justice grievances (e.g., targeting persons of Asian descent), as well as police use of force concerns, potentially targeting protestors perceived to be ideological opponents.

The department has announced that within its FEMA grants, it is prioritizing DVE threats; collaborating with industry partners to identify and prevent domestic terrorism. This includes identifying and responding to those individuals encouraging violence and attempting to radicalize others through spreading disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives on social media and other online platforms.

How the Public Can Help

DHS is asking the public to report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online threats, to local law enforcement via 911, FBI Field Offices, or a local Fusion Center. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues, or who may be a danger to themself or others, support is available.

The alert goes on to remind the public to be aware of their surroundings and remain aware of circumstances that may place their personal safety at risk.  Business owners should consider the safety and security of customers, employees, facilities, infrastructure, and cyber networks.

Of special importance for the public: maintaining digital media literacy, and to recognize and build resilience to false and harmful narratives.

Most important, If You See Something, Say Something®. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.

The DHS site:

The Facebook page for the Dept. of Homeland Security: