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Domestic extremists now pose greatest terrorism threat in US

A government intelligence bulletin, jointly produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center, has argued that domestic extremists, motivated by conspiracy theories and opposed to mitigation measures against the coronavirus, pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats against the United States this year.

The bulletin warns that the 6 January attack on the Capitol is extremely likely to motivate extremists to carry out more violent attacks across the country in 2021, although the suspected violence is likely to be ‘more sporadic, lone actor or small cell violence’ and carried out by ‘a loosely organised, sustained, and significant population’.

The bulletin claims that such actors tend to view the riot as a success for their cause and perceive it ‘as a step toward achieving their initiatives’. The attack on the Capitol should therefore be seen as ‘part of an ongoing trend, in which extremists use demonstrations to carry out ideologically motivated violence’. Such violence is increasingly directed against members of the media, who are seen by domestic violent extremists as being complicit ‘in a system hostile to their beliefs’.

The attack at the Capitol saw a pro-Trump mob storm the building while Congress counted Electoral College votes, forcing the legislators to evacuate the building. Rioters smashed windows, assaulted Capitol Police officers and trespassed in lawmakers’ offices, including the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The attack left at least five people dead. Law enforcement found multiple explosive devices in the area.

It was announced on 13 January that Donald Trump has become the first President in US history to be impeached twice, after being charged with ‘incitement of insurrection’ over the storming of Congress.

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