Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned Friday that “violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions.”
The department said in its newest National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin:
Violent extremists may seek to exploit the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the United States to conduct attacks against a broader range of targets after previous public capacity limits reduced opportunities for lethal attacks.
Russian, Chinese and Iranian government-linked media outlets have repeatedly amplified conspiracy theories concerning the origins of COVID-19 and effectiveness of vaccines; in some cases, amplifying calls for violence targeting persons of Asian descent. Many of these violent extremists are motivated and inspired by a mix of socio-political goals and personal grievances against their targets.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas remarked after releasing the new bulletin, “Today’s terrorism-related threat landscape is more complex, more dynamic, and more diversified than it was several years ago.”
“The warning was not just limited to COVID-19, as online discussions ‘have stated that civil disorder provides opportunities to engage in violence in furtherance of ideological objectives,’” the Hill reported.