DHS bulletin issues warning about a rise in violent threats fueled by misinformation

DHS bulletin issues warning about a rise in violent threats fueled by misinformation
A copy of the Mark Z. Danielewski novel "The House of Leaves" being burned in November 2009, Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a new bulletin to raise awareness about the possibility of election misinformation, warning the U.S. could see a rise in violence in the summer months and upcoming midterm election season, thanks in part to the Supreme Court's potential decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday, June 7, the National Terrorism Advisory System released its bulletin as it explained that "threat actors" are on the rise, according to CNN.

"Threat actors have recently mobilized to violence due to factors such as personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies, including racially or ethnically motivated or anti-government/antiauthority violent extremism," a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin issued Tuesday said."

One DHS senior official also expressed concern the political events set to transpire later this year as many are still displeased with the outcome of the 2020 presidential election which was shrouded by disturbing claims of misinformation.

"One of the key upcoming events that we are worried about are first and foremost the mid-term elections," said the DHS official.

Per CNN, the DHS official also noted that individuals who still feel slighted by the outcome of the 2020 presidential election "may feel compelled to respond to the election season using violence."

"As the United States enters mid-term election season this year, we assess that calls for violence by domestic violent extremists directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers will likely increase," the bulletin, obtained by CNN, said.

The bulletin also highlighted concerns about the controversy surrounding abortion rights and the U.S. Supreme Court's final opinion which is gearing up to be "a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade's holding of a federal constitutional right to an abortion."

Per the DHS bulletin: "Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as those with opposing ideologies."

The DHS senior official also warned that "going forward, we're concerned that grievances related to restricting abortion access in general could fuel a broader response."

The latest bulletin is the sixth DHS has released since the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol which took place Jan. 6, 2021. In addition to the domestic concerns, the bulletin also noted that this unpredictable time may be one that foreign agitators may attempt to seize on.

"Foreign adversaries — including terrorist organizations and nation state adversaries — also remain intent on exploiting the threat environment to promote or inspire violence, sow discord, or undermine U.S. democratic institutions," the bulletin said.

It was also noted that social media platforms continue to pose heightened risks as it is still considered a hub for misinformation.

"Individuals in online forums that routinely promulgate domestic violent extremist and conspiracy theory-related content have praised the May 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and encouraged copycat attacks," the bulletin said. "Others have seized on the event to attempt to spread disinformation and incite grievances, including claims it was a government-staged event meant to advance gun control measures."

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