DHS Memo: Terrorism Threats Surging Online

April 21, 2023

Terrorist and domestic violent extremist organizations have increased their online threats, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Daily Beast.

According to the memo, the increased threats target specific groups, including the LGBTQ community, journalists, the government, law enforcement, the military and perceived enemies of Islam.

The Daily Beast says the memo, which was leaked last week, was prepared by the DHS Counterterrorism Mission Center and coordinated by the DHS Intelligence Enterprise. It includes reports of extremists giving guidance on how to conduct violent attacks, including the use of firearms, arson and Molotov cocktails.

Much of the violent discourse is taking place on Telegram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook, according to the memo.

The memo was leaked roughly two months after the Anti-Defamation League reported that number of mass shootings in the U.S. linked to extremism has increased three-fold in the past decade.

Some 93% of the extremist-linked killings in 2022 were committed with firearms, according to the ADL. 

However, while the recently-leaked DHS report discusses threats of attack during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan—including some from pro-ISIS factions—the ADL’s February report found that “deadly incidents linked to Islamist extremism have decreased significantly in the U.S. over the past five years.”

Ramadan began in late March and ends this Friday.

The DHS memo further warns that domestic violent extremist media has continued to urge attacks against electrical substations, with a particular focus on the shooting attack against a substation in Moore County, North Carolina this past December that left thousands without power.

On several recent occasions FBI Director Chris Wray has testified before Congress about the rising threat of domestic terrorism.

“[E]every day, we receive thousands of tips into our National Threat Operations Center, many of which involve imminent threats to life requiring swift action,” he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in September 2021.

During that testimony, Wray said the greatest threat to the U.S. is from “what are, in effect, lone actors.”

“We continue to see individuals radicalized here at home by jihadist ideologies espoused by foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda—what we would call homegrown violent extremists,” Wray noted. “But we’re also countering lone domestic violent extremists radicalized by personalized grievances ranging from racial and ethnic bias to anti-government, anti-authority sentiment to conspiracy theories.”

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