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US anti-terror agency warns new Covid lockdowns may inspire extremists

For the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will continue to pose a threat” to the US, said a bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday.

Foreign or domestic terrorists have historically targeted crowded venues and “at times caused mass causalities [sic],” DHS pointed out, noting that the upcoming “dates of religious significance over the next few months” and the continued reopening from pandemic lockdowns “could provide increased targets of opportunity for violence.” However, they rushed to note there are “currently no credible or imminent threats tied to any dates or locations.”

However, if “new public health restrictions” are put into place in case a new Covid-19 variant emerges, that could also be potentially used as a “rationale” for violence against the government or public health officials by “anti-government extremists,” the DHS said.

Moreover, some “domestic violent extremists” (DVE) have “attempted to use the relocation of Afghan nationals” to the US to “exacerbate historical DVE grievances over immigration and the American Muslim community,” the bulletin argued.

The DHS also complained about “narratives online” that allegedly promote or advocate violence against “elected officials, political representatives, government facilities, law enforcement, religious communities or commercial facilities, and perceived ideological opponents.”

The department advised Americans to “stay vigilant” and report any suspicious activity, listen to local authorities, and develop “digital media literacy to recognize and build resilience to false and harmful narratives.”

Wednesday’s warning follows the pattern of Homeland Security bulletins since President Joe Biden took office. In January, the DHS warned 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.” Nothing happened.

In May, the DHS claimed the lifting of Covid-19 lockdowns could lead to extremist attacks, and in August, it worried about “some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former president Trump.”

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