April 26 (UPI) — The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal probe for domestic violent extremism and White supremacy threats in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol building, officials said Monday.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered the internal review by a working group of senior officials led by the department’s chief security officer to begin immediately with the goal of producing a report on how to respond to such threats, including racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism, among their employees.
“We will not allow hateful acts or violent extremism to penetrate the fabric of our department and fundamentally compromise our ability to protect the homeland,” Mayorkas said in a letter addressed to the department’s employees.
The probe was launched as the Biden administration has sought to counter domestic violent extremism since taking office Jan. 20 as the nation was still understanding the breadth of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building by supporters of then-President Donald Trump that resulted in at least five deaths, including that of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer.
More than 400 people have since been arrested in connection to the attack, including former members of military and law enforcement and members of hate groups and far-right anti-government militias.
Days after the Biden administration took office, the Department of Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin warning that it believes “a heightened threat environment” following the attack would persist in the weeks to follow.
The advisory expires May 15.
The department, which oversees the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service and includes 240,000 employees, has been criticized following several high-profile instances of racism and White supremacy among their ranks.
In 2019, a Facebook group was uncovered in which former and current CBP agents were seen making jokes about the deaths of migrants as well as racist comments about Latino members of Congress.
Early last year, Christopher Hasson, a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, was arrested on accusations of stockpiling weapons to conduct a large-scale terror attack to ignite a race war as well as having created a hit list of Democrats and left-leaning commentators and journalists.
In his letter, Mayorkas said DHS leadership will dispense additional information and guidance about policies and procedures for reporting insider threats and other actions connected to domestic violent extremism.
The internal review was also launched weeks after the Defense Department completed its 60-day military-wide stand down issued in February to deal with extremism.