- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2021

Domestic violent extremists pose a heightened security threat after being emboldened by the breach of the U.S. Capitol, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a report Wednesday.

The four-page, unclassified assessment on domestic violent extremists, or DVEs, said the seize of the Capitol building is among several new factors likely to inspire or lead to other acts of violence.

Additionally, the report said officials assess violent white supremacists and other racially or ethically motivated extremists remain among the “most lethal” threats to national security for now.

The report, produced with help from federal offices including the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, among others, echoes findings reached by the latter agency in October 2020.

DHS reported then that DVEs might target events related to the 2020 presidential election and that violent white supremacists posed the “most persistent and lethal threat” to homeland security.

Supporters of former Republican President Trump later breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6, briefly disrupting the process of Congress recognizing the results of his failed race for re-election.

Extremists of all sorts were accordingly “galvanized” by the storming of the Capitol, the U.S. intelligence community now concludes, in addition to several other recent factors and conditions at play.

“Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year,” reads an excerpt from the intelligence community’s assessment.

In addition to DVEs motivated by race or ethnicity, such as violent white supremacists, the latest assessment said that militia violent extremists also pose the “most lethal” threat to U.S. security.

Racially or ethically motivated extremists are “most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians,” while militia violent extremists usually attack police or government targets, it said.

Violent white supremacists are particularly concerning due to their ideologies being shared abroad, the report said, in turn allowing for the creation of “transnational connections” among racists.

Indeed, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed a small number of racially motivated extremists have traveled abroad “to network with like-minded individuals,” the report noted.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray testified earlier this month that investigators have identified some white supremacists among the hundreds of rioters currently facing charges over the Capitol breach.

Among the defendants is one seen wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt at the Capitol and another was accused in court of having an “affinity for Hitler and the Nazi Party.”

Speaking before the Senate on March 2, Mr. Wray said that nearly triple the number of violent white supremacists were arrested in 2020 compared to 2017 when he was first appointed FBI director.

Reports of white supremacist propaganda also went up during that span, another study found Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League said it saw 69% more white supremacist propaganda in 2020 than 2019.

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