WASHINGTON – The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned on Thursday that the threat from domestic extremism remains high ahead of the November 2024 presidential election.
The warning comes despite the prosecution and imprisonment of hundreds – including members of extremist groups – for the Jan 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.
“In 2024, we expect the threat of violence from violent extremists radicalised in the United States will remain high,” DHS said in its annual US threat assessment.
The threat from domestic violent extremists – those without international ties – and extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organisations is little changed, it said.
Both “will continue to be inspired and motivated by a mix of conspiracy theories; personalised grievances; and enduring racial, ethnic, religious and anti-government ideologies, often shared online”, the DHS report said.
DHS said a key threat is from racially and ethnically motivated extremists who advocate race war. Several attacks by extremist groups in the past two years have targeted communications and energy infrastructure, such as power plants, with the goal of stirring up fear and destabilising society.
Multiple individuals have also carried out racially motivated mass shootings. The most recent incident occurred in late August in Jacksonville, Florida, when a 21-year-old white man killed three black people in a discount store before taking his own life.
During next year’s election, DHS said, extremists motivated by conspiracy theories and anti-government grievances may also “seek to disrupt electoral processes”. It warned of possible violence or threats against government officials, voters and election officials.
In addition, “Russia, China and Iran likely see the upcoming election season in 2024 as an opportunity to conduct overt and covert influence campaigns aimed at shaping favourable US policy outcomes and undermining US stability”, DHS said.