DHS warns online threats have increased on extremist platforms over past 48 hours with some against lawmakers

While there is no indication yet of a specific and credible plot, officials fear the content may inspire violence, particularly from lone criminals. Law enforcement and federal authorities in the Washington, DC region stepped up security efforts this week in anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

The DHS intelligence memorandum warns that potential violence could be directed against political officials and other government officials, including members of Congress, state and local officials, and prominent members of political parties.

It was dispatched by DHS intelligence chief John Cohen to federal, state and local police on Thursday afternoon, noting that the threat of violence could extend beyond the Washington, DC area.

Law enforcement agencies are investigating the posts.

The online content, identified by DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, includes a video listing 93 members of Congress who it says participated in the vote to certify the “fraudulent” 2020 presidential election.

The video, posted on a forum known for hosting QAnon-related content and posted elsewhere, called for members of Congress to be hanged in front of the White House. Since the original video appeared online in early December, it has been viewed more than 60,000 times across all platforms, according to Intel’s advisory.

A separate online post refers to January 6 as a potential day to carry out assassinations against Democratic political figures, including President Joe Biden, due to the alleged fraudulent election, the memo says.

The Federal Protective Service has expanded patrols in and around federal facilities across the country, according to the memo. The US Secret Service, the US Capitol Police and the DC Metropolitan Police are “aware of this online activity, and investigations have been initiated, as appropriate,” the memo states.

There has been a dramatic increase in threats against lawmakers, with 9,600 in 2021 alone, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said this week. A senior Capitol security official attributed that increase in part to “a more bitter and partisan political environment and citizens for whom the issues they are angry about are core values ​​and identity issues.”

On Thursday afternoon, during an Anti-Defamation League panel discussion, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the department is working to inform local communities, without reference to this week’s increased threats. .

“We do this by disseminating information about what we know, so that the playing field, the law enforcement landscape, and the public conscience in general, is alert to the information that we have in our possession, so that we are all working. in the same set of facts and we all understand that of the threat that we have before us ”, he said.

CNN previously reported that in the days leading up to the anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal officials had seen an increase in unspecified calls for violence, attacks on politicians, and calls for violence. rebellion in domestic violent extremist forums, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Federal officials warned last week that “threat actors” could seize the anniversary of the riots.

“We assess that threat actors will attempt to exploit the upcoming anniversary of the rape of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 to promote or possibly commit acts of violence,” said an intelligence assessment issued last Thursday to state and local officials. .

Lone criminals were the most likely threat for the anniversary, according to the intelligence assessment.

Conspiracy theories about voter fraud continue to resonate with violent domestic extremists and could again inspire some to promote or commit acts of violence, according to the assessment, which was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Capitol Police. from the US and other law enforcement agencies.


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