Report: White supremacy is ‘most persistent and lethal’ terroristic threat facing the U.S.

Violent extremists exploit fears about COVID-19 and social grievances, to incite violence, intimidate and promote their agenda.


National News

September 10, 2020 - 10:08 AM

Neo-Nazis, alt-Right and white supremacists march through the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., the night before the "Unite the Right" rally, on Aug. 11, 2017. A draft report from the Department of Homeland Security names white supremacy the "most persistent and lethal" terror threat in the U.S. for the next year. Photo by (Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/Zuma Press/TNS)

A draft report from the Department of Homeland Security has predicted white supremacy will be the “most persistent and lethal” terror threat in the United States next year.

In three different draft documents, obtained by Lawfare Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes and first reported on by Politico, the DHS expressed greater worry about the controversial ideology than both foreign terrorist groups and disinformation efforts from Russia.

“Foreign terrorist organizations will continue to call for Homeland attacks but probably will remain constrained in their ability to direct such plots over the next year,” all three documents said.

And while the language does vary between each version of the report, the overall sentiment and conclusions remained consistent. In the first version of the “State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020” draft, the threat of white supremacy is addressed in an introductory section of the report labeled, “Key Takeaways.”

“Lone offenders and small cells of individuals motivated by a diverse array of social, ideological, and personal factors will pose the primary terrorist threat to the United States,” the draft reads.

“Among these groups, we assess that white supremacist extremists — who increasingly are networking with likeminded persons abroad — will pose the most persistent and lethal threat.”

Both of the corresponding sections in the next two drafts label the nation’s “most persistent and lethal threat” as “Domestic Violent Extremists,” rather than specifically naming white supremacists.

In a latter section called “The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland,” all three reports delve into further detail on white supremacy.

Each of them also clarified: “Among DVEs (Domestic Violent Extremists), we judge that white supremacist extremists (WSEs) will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland through 2021.”

“Violent extremists almost certainly will continue their efforts to exploit public fears associated with COVID-19 and social grievances driving lawful protests to incite violence, intimidate targets, and promote their violent extremist ideologies,” the second and third drafts reviewed by Politico said.

“Simple tactics — such as vehicle ramming, small arms, edged weapons, arson, and rudimentary improvised explosive devices — probably will be most common.”

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