Assessing the Threat of Domestic Violent Extremism

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice released an unclassified joint threat assessment on the elevated threat of domestic violent extremists (DVE) this year. The report, Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat in 2021, states that a number of contributing factors can encourage DVEs to commit violence this year, including recent allegations of election fraud, the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and floating conspiracy theories that promote violence.

DVEs are believed to be using various social media platforms, websites, and messaging applications to gather support.

The report also highlights the following key assessments made by the Intelligence Community (IC):

The IC assesses that lone offenders or small cells of DVEs adhering to a diverse set of violent extremist
ideologies are more likely to carry out violent attacks in the Homeland than organizations that allegedly
advocate a DVE ideology. […]

The IC assesses that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and militia violent
extremists (MVEs) present the most lethal DVE threats, with RMVEs most likely to conduct mass-casualty
attacks against civilians and MVEs typically targeting law enforcement and government personnel and
facilities. […]

DVE lone offenders will continue to pose significant detection and disruption challenges because of
their capacity for independent radicalization to violence, ability to mobilize discretely, and access to
firearms.

A disclaimer in the document assures the public that the involved agencies did not evaluate “actions of individuals engaged solely in activities protected by the First Amendment or other rights secured by the Constitution of the United States.”

The full report can be read here.


For more information on topics related to this piece, visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Domestic (U.S.) Terrorism.

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