The State of Domestic Extremists Following Capitol Riot

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab has recently released After the Insurrection: How Domestic Extremists Adapted and Evolved After the January 6 US Capitol Attacka report detailing the state of radicalization and domestic extremism in the U.S. leading up to and developing after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. Extremist groups, who came together under the “Stop the Steal” movement, have used online and offline strategies to further their causes even after the failed insurrection. Some of these strategies have included forming nonprofits aimed at legitimizing their ideology via political platforms and creating new digital platforms to ensure their content cannot be removed. They have also tried reframing the January 6th riot to insinuate the government attempted to use it to spread conspiracies “against Trump supporters.”

Rioters at Capitol building
Credit: Tyler Merbler

While many extremist groups seem encouraged in the aftermath of the January 6th attack, methods aimed at discouraging their efforts are on the rise. Online platforms have essentially caused a “great scattering” of radicals by censoring their content and removing their profiles altogether, effectively breaking up some established groups. Additionally, hackers, researchers, and “digital sleuths” have exposed “previously unknown details about [extremists], including personal information.” However, according to the report “the threat of political violence in the United States may be diffuse, but it is growing” and new tactics will be needed to ensure national security goals are met.


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