Vigilance Amidst Uncertainty: Homeland Security’s Battle Against Extremism and Terrorism

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The United States remains in a high-threat atmosphere. Lone offenders and small groups inspired by a range of ideological opinions and personal grudges persist in posing a persistent and lethal danger to the US. Both domestic violent extremists and those associated with foreign terrorist associations continue to endeavour to motivate supporters to function attacks in the US, including via violent extremist messaging and online calls for violence. In the forthcoming, factors that could muster individuals to commit violence include their perceptions of the 2024 general election process and legislative or judicial judgments on sociopolitical issues.

In May 2023, a now-dead individual shot dead eight and wounded seven others at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas. Law enforcement persists in investigating the motive behind the aggression, but initial reporting indicates the attacker fixated on mass shootings and held beliefs consistent with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and forced celibate violent extremist principles. In March 2023, a now-deceased person shot and massacred six people at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. Law enforcement persists in investigating the reason behind the attack and has revealed the individual learned about other mob murderers. 

Also in March 2023, a racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist (RMVE) driven by faith in the superiority of the white race was suspended and charged with allegedly endeavouring to use an improvised explosive device to burn down a church in Ohio that was preparing to host a drag-themed event. In February 2023, two RMVEs pushed by a belief in the superiority of the white race were captured and are now awaiting trial for planning an attack against electrical substations in Maryland. These arrests followed a sequence of recent attacks against electrical infrastructure, which some DVEs have glorified and leveraged to call for more spells on critical infrastructure.

Meanwhile, foreign terrorists persist in using media to call for lone lawbreaker attacks in the West, criticise US foreign policy, and attempt to extend their reach and grow global asset networks. Most recently, in January 2023, a person from Maine who was motivated by a combination of foreign terrorist content was assessed with federal crimes for an episode on New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers during New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square.

Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation continue to communicate timely and actionable details and intelligence with the broadest audience achievable. This includes sharing data and intelligence with associates across every level of management and in the private sector. DHS conduct regular threat briefings with the private sector, state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus members, including reporting security planning steps. DHS remains determined to work with partners to pinpoint and prevent all forms of targeted violence and terrorism and to back law enforcement efforts to support communities safe.

DHS, in cooperation with its federal partners, established the Prevention Resource Finder website in March 2023. The PRF is a wide web repository of federal resources unrestricted to help communities comprehend, mitigate, and safeguard themselves from targeted violence and terrorism. The DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships persists in engaging a section of faith-based and resident organizations, including members of the Faith-based Security Advisory Council which DHS reconstituted in July 2022, to support and build the capability of faith-based and community organizations striving to protect their places of worship and community spaces.

Moreover, DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center in 2021 together revised behavioral indicators of U.S. extremist mobilization to violence. Further, I&A’s National Threat Evaluation and Reporting Program persists in providing mechanisms and resources for federal, state, regional, tribal, and territorial counterparts on controlling terrorism and targeted violence, including online suspect activity reporting training. DHS’s Transportation Security Administration Intermodal Security Training and Exercise Program and Exercise Information System operate with government and private sector partners – including owners and operators of essential transportation infrastructure – to improve security and reduce threats posed by actions of terrorism.

DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency operates with government and confidential sector partners – including owners and operators of essential infrastructure and public meeting places – to enhance security and contain risks posed by actions of terrorism and targeted violence via its network of Protective Security Advisors and resources managing Operational Shooters, School Protection, Bombing Prevention, and Soft Targets-Crowded Areas.

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