'The most complex threat environment I’ve ever seen': Ex-DHS intelligence chief warns of MAGA violence

'The most complex threat environment I’ve ever seen': Ex-DHS intelligence chief warns of MAGA violence
Former President Donald Trump speaking at a MAGA rally in Phoenix, Arizona on February 19, 2020 (Gage Skidmore).

An alliance of right-wing extremists and hardcore Donald Trump supporters has come together since the Jan. 6 insurrection, and law enforcement officials are gravely concerned.

The confederation was predictable -- and was indeed predicted -- by Homeland Security officials, who are no less alarmed to see how emboldened extremists have become since the insurrection caused their numbers to swell with new recruits, reported The New Yorker.

“On Jan. 6, we had neo-Nazis hanging out with a bunch of otherwise just MAGA people,” said Elizabeth Neumann, who served as DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention during the Trump administration. “That’s an opportunity to recruit.”

Some of the U.S. Capitol rioters awaiting trial at the District of Columbia jail have formed an almost "cultlike" bond while locked up, and another former DHS official said that could be seen as symbolic of the alliances forming among disparate extremist groups after the former president's loss.

“One of the things that make the current threat environment complicated for law enforcement and intelligence is the blending that occurs,” said John Cohen, who served as DHS acting chief of intelligence during the first year of Joe Biden's presidency. “People who may have come from very different ideological backgrounds or somewhat different ideological backgrounds are coalescing around certain things.”

Cohen said the unit he oversaw has picked up some disturbing and unmistakeable patterns.

“Anti-government militia, hardcore white supremacists, and even people more from the anarchist movement have come together,” Cohen said. Their goals are explicit: “assassination of elected officials, and violent activities to resist government activities or programs.”

Cohen pointed to a white supremacist's recent mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo as an example of this escalating threat.

“In my 38-plus years of law enforcement, this is the most complex threat environment I’ve ever seen,” Cohen said. “We have unacceptable levels of violence by people who are influenced and inspired by content they see online.”

“I am really f*cking concerned about where we are," he added.

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