US issues terror alert over anti-govt extremists

29 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Homeland Security declared a nationwide terrorism alert on Wednesday, citing the potential threat from domestic anti-government extremists opposed to Democrat Joe Biden as president, reports AFP.

Extremists “emboldened” by the deadly January 6 assault on Congress by angry supporters of former president Donald Trump could undertake attacks against elected officials and government facilities, the alert said.

The warning came as authorities in California charged a Trump supporter and follower of a far-right militia group with possession of five home-made pipe bombs, alleging he intended to attack Democrats.

The National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin said the threat of attacks could persist for weeks, in the wake of Biden’s January 20 inauguration and the storming of the US Capitol.

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the Department of Homeland Security said.

Some security worries surround the impeachment trial of Trump beginning in the second week of February.

Trump has been charged by the House of Representatives with “incitement of insurrection” for allegedly encouraging the assault on the Capitol. DHS said it had no information indicating any specific, credible threat.

“However, violent riots have continued in recent days and we remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition... could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence,” it said.

The alert came two days after the Pentagon said thousands of National Guard troops deployed in Washington for Biden’s inauguration would remain in the capital through March due to FBI intelligence on potential threats.

It was the first alert ever issued for domestic violent extremists.

Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the alert marked a turn from the previous four years of the Trump administration when the threat from the extreme right was downplayed, despite a growing number of deadly attacks.

“I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists, and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people,” Thompson said.