Jun 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

DHS warns about new threats fueled by misinformation, abortion ruling

Supreme Court

Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The U.S. continues to face an increased threat of violence stemming from misinformation from domestic extremists and potential civil unrest surrounding the Supreme Court's ultimate decision on abortion rights, according to a terror threat bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday.

Driving the news: The bulletin warns that a number of "high-profile events" could be used to justify violence against targets that include schools, public gatherings, ideological opponents, racial and religious minorities and government facilities.

The big picture: Online forums that traffic in conspiracy theories and domestic violent extremist content have praised the Uvalde mass shooting and potentially encouraged copycat attacks, the bulletin notes.

  • Some users have also used the tragedy at Robb Elementary School to fuel "disinformation and incite grievances, including claims it was a government-staged event meant to advance gun control measures."
  • DHS expects that calls for violence by domestic extremists aimed at political candidates, election events and election workers, among others, will increase ahead of the midterms.
  • The continued proliferation of misinformation could "inspire individuals to mobilize to violence," noted the bulletin, pointing to an increased risk of domestic extremists using issues surrounding border security to justify violence.
  • The Supreme Court's looming decision on abortion is another flashpoint. DHS warned that people both for and against abortion rights have encouraged violence against "government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities" via public forums.

Worth noting: The bulletin also warns that foreign adversaries may seek to exploit the divisions in America to "sow discord, undermine U.S. democratic institutions, and promote or inspire violence by their supporters."

  • Ahead of the midterms, such foreign actors could increase messaging intent to bolster discord and "influence U.S. audiences in keeping with practices during previous election cycles."

State of play: DHS warned last month that the Supreme Court's expected ruling overturning Roe v. Wade could spark a surge in political violence.

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