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Domestic Violent Extremists ‘Will Almost Certainly’ Attempt Violence in 2021, Intelligence Community Warns


Domestic violent extremists will “almost certainly” attempt violence this year, and racially motivated extremists are “most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians,” the intelligence community warned in a report released on Wednesday.

Jointly signed by the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, the single-page executive summary in an unclassified version of a longer report found that militia groups typically target law enforcement and government personnel and facilities.

“Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year,” the report states.

White supremacist, neo-Nazi and other groups have cropped up frequently among the hundreds of criminal cases charged in the wake of the Jan. 6th siege.

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, an Army Reservist and contractor who posed like Adolf Hitler in photographs found by prosecutors, was part of the mob that invaded the Capitol, and authorities found copies of Mein Kampf and the neo-Nazi work of fiction The Turner Diaries—the book that inspired Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh—in his apartment.

Members of militia and extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have also been arrested and charged.

The intelligence community assessed that “lone offenders” or “small cells” are more likely to carry out attacks than organizations.

Abbreviating domestic violent extremists as “DVEs,” the report’s shorthand for racist subgroups among them is RMVEs—racially motivated violent extremists.

“The [intelligence community] assesses that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and militia violent extremists (MVEs) present the most lethal DVE threats, with RMVEs most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians and MVEs typically targeting law enforcement and government personnel and facilities,” the report states. “The IC assesses that the MVE threat increased last year and that it will almost certainly continue to be elevated throughout 2021 because of contentious sociopolitical factors that motivate MVEs to commit violence.”

The agencies emphasize that white supremacists increasingly have transnational networks.

“The IC assesses that U.S. RMVEs who promote the superiority of the white race are the DVE actors with the most persistent and concerning transnational connections because individuals with similar ideological beliefs exist outside of the United States and these RMVEs frequently communicate with and seek to influence each other,” the report states. “We assess that a small number of US RMVEs have traveled abroad to network with like-minded individuals.”

The agencies say that the report was drafted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, and DHS with contributions from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“All agencies involved are mindful of the duty to respect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties and to act within the authorities granted to them as they seek to put together as complete an intelligence and analytic picture as is possible,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Read the report below:

[Image via Samuel Corum/Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."