Mar 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

ODNI says U.S. faces "heightened threat" from domestic extremism

Proud Boys members rallying for Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., in December 2020.

Proud Boys members rallying for Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Violent extremists motivated by political or racial bias pose an "elevated threat" to the United States this year, according to an unclassified threat assessment released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The report comes more than two months after a violent mob of former President Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, resulting in a riot that killed five people. The assessment echoes warnings from other U.S. officials and federal agencies.

  • Earlier this month, FBI director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling the Jan. 6 siege an act of domestic terrorism, saying the issue had been metastasizing across the country."

What they're saying: "Enduring [domestic violent extremists] motivations pertaining to biases against minority populations and perceived government overreach will almost certainly continue to drive DVE radicalization and mobilization to violence," ODNI said in the report.

  • "Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year."
  • "DVE attackers often radicalize independently by consuming violent extremist material online and mobilize without direction from a violent extremist organization, making detection and disruption difficult."

The big picture: In January, the Biden administration released its plan to assess and combat domestic violent extremism, which included the request for an assessment on the threat posed by white supremacists and other domestic extremist groups.

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