The United States Department of Homeland Security on August 13 2021, issued a fresh terrorism threat advisory as the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks is approaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s resurgence. US’ National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin has said that the country is presently facing a “heightened threat environment” not just from domestic terrorists but also “those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences." the official statement issued on Friday has also cited the increased use of “online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity."
The statement read, “The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment leading up to and following the 20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well religious holidays we assess could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence. These threats include those posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences.”
“These actors are increasingly exploiting online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity. Such threats are also exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions,” it added.
DHS @SecMayorkas issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the heightened threat environment across the United States.— Homeland Security (@DHSgov) August 13, 2021
Read the full Bulletin here: https://t.co/o9h8DoR1Yc pic.twitter.com/PWlm1uA7NY
The latest advisory in the US came as an update to a January alert following the shocking attack on the United States Congress by the supporters of former President Donald Trump. At the time, the US Department of Homeland Security had said that the country faced “increasingly complex and volatile" threats from anti-government and racially motivated extremists. Most of the time, it was stirred up by the online influence from across the border.
The bulletin was already amended in May with the DHS warning that violent extremists could further exploit the lofting of COVID-19 restrictions to conduct the attacks. The advisory said, “Extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of Covid-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks” adding that “pandemic-related stressors... may contribute to more violence this year."
On Friday, the DHS also informed how it is responding to the “heightened threat environment” saying that the federal agency will continue to identify and evaluate calls for violence including the activities that take place online with the spread of misinformation or conspiracy theories. It said it is “coordinating with state and local law enforcement and public safety partners to maintain situational awareness of potential violence in their jurisdictions and maintain open lines of communication with federal partners.”
“More broadly, DHS remains committed to identifying and preventing terrorism and targeted violence while protecting the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of all persons,” it added.