U.S. intelligence agencies are concerned about the threat of acts of violence against elected officials and government agencies and attacks on infrastructure
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a press release from the National Terrorism Alert System (NTAS) warning that an increased threat of domestic terrorism will persist for weeks after the president’s inauguration.
The released information indicates that “some ideologically motivated extremists opposed to the presidential transition, fueled by false narratives, may continue to mobilize to incite or perpetrate violence,” the bulletin said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is concerned about the continuing trend of violence in the early months of 2021. Some homegrown extremists, encouraged by the storming of the Capitol, could be planning “attacks against elected officials and government agencies,” the department said. U.S. intelligence agencies are also concerned about threats to the country’s infrastructure, including the energy sector, telecommunications and the health care system.
Joseph Fitsanakis, a professor at Coastal Carolina University in the United States, says the Department of Homeland Security warning confirms the findings of independent experts.
“The data demonstrate that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was not the culmination of an anti-democratic movement; rather, it was the first shots fired, marking the beginning of a long period of rebellion against authority. This rebellion can take many forms, some more violent than others. Consequently, the security institutions of the state must prepare for a prolonged terrorist threat led by various groups of domestic violent extremists. I think the Department of Homeland Security statement shows that the intelligence and security services have recognized the lingering nature of the threat and are now actively preparing for it,” the expert said.
Last week, the FBI arrested a 44-year-old man in California with five homemade bombs, 49 firearms and 15,000 rounds of ammunition. The suspect intended to commit acts of violence against ideological opponents.
“Our focus is on people who plan to use firearms and explosive devices,” FBI Special Agent Craig Feir said at the time.
On Thursday, the acting police chief of the Capitol suggested permanent fencing around the Congressional Building and other security measures.
“In light of recent events, I can say unequivocally that significant improvements need to be made to the security infrastructure, including permanent fencing and backup forces in the vicinity of the Capitol,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said.
A 71-year-old West Virginia man was arrested Thursday near the Capitol and found in possession of a gun and 20 rounds of ammunition, along with a list of senators and congressmen representing his state, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said more security measures were needed.
“We’re probably going to need additional means to beef up security for members of Congress, given that the enemy is inside the House — it’s a threat that worries members of Congress in addition to what’s going on outside,” she said.
Pelosi was likely referring to Republican congresswoman Marjorie Green, who in 2019 accused the speaker of treason by threatening her with the death penalty. Last week, another Republican lawmaker, Andy Harris, tried to sneak a gun into the Congressional Building. Law enforcement is investigating.
Meanwhile, Capitol Police are stepping up security measures at transportation hubs in the Greater Washington region and taking other steps to ensure lawmakers’ safety. In an email obtained Friday by the Associated Press, Acting House Bailiff Timothy Blodgett said Capitol Police will be stationed at local airports and the Washington train station, and added that an online portal is being created where lawmakers will report threats and suspicious activity against themselves, their aides and families.
Meanwhile, the FBI said that so far 400 suspects who took part in the Jan. 6 Capitol assault have been identified and 150 of them are facing criminal charges. Charges include trespassing on federal property, theft and damage to government property, and assaulting law enforcement officers.