'False narratives and conspiracy theories': DHS issues warning about possible rise in domestic extremism

'False narratives and conspiracy theories': DHS issues warning about possible rise in domestic extremism
Pro-Trump protesters storm US Capitol - Police officers try to stop supporters of US President Donald Trump as they storm the US Capitol building where lawmakers were due to certify president-elect Joe Biden's win in the November election. - Miguel Juarez Lugo/ZUMA Wire/dpa

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning about the possible rise in domestic terrorism as new COVID-related restrictions are implemented.

On Friday, August 13, the department released its latest terrorism bulletin that detailed the types of threats that could arise, Slate.com reports. "Pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions, driving several plots by domestic violent extremists, and they may contribute to more violence this year," the bulletin reads.

With the resurgence of COVID, the department expects an up-rise in volence due to the spread of conspiracy theories and other misinformation online.

"Actors are increasingly exploiting online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity," the bulletin reads. "Such threats are also exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions."

As new COVID variants are emerging, so are conspiracy theories about the virus and the vaccine. However, the department's concerns are not solely pandemic-related. The publication also notes that law enforcement agencies have also expressed concern about "the broader sharing of false narratives and conspiracy theories will gain traction in mainstream environments, resulting in individuals or small groups embracing violent tactics to achieve their desired objectives."

DHS officials have also issued a warning to local officials expressing concern about potential unrest fueled by an "increasing but modest level of individuals calling for violence in response to the unsubstantiated claims of fraud related to the 2020 election fraud and the alleged 'reinstatement' of former President Trump."

Last but not least, DHS also has concerns about the upcoming 9/11 anniversary. While each year is significant, this year will mark the 20th anniversary which the department sees as a "heightened threat environment."

"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," notes the bulletin.

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