The Department of Homeland Security is warning about the potential for violence in the lead-up to the 2024 election cycle that could target the nation's critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, government facilities and minority communities, according to a bulletin posted Wednesday.
“In the coming months, DHS expects the threat environment to remain heightened and that individuals may be motivated to violence by perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle,” the National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin said, adding that “legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues” may also motivate attackers.
Those perceptions, according to senior DHS officials, may arise if misinformation spreads in 2024, as it did in 2020, that the U.S. election system is rigged or flawed.
The new bulletin, released as a previous bulletin outlining the terrorism threat landscape was due to expire, points to recent incidents and public online communications to take a pulse of the current and most threatening terror threats in the United States.
Among those recent events was the May 6 mass shooting in Allen, Texas, in which the attacker “held views consistent with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism.”
The agency has now issued eight bulletins since January 2021, the month of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
On a call with reporters Wednesday, senior DHS officials said recent charges and sentences against the perpetrators of the Jan. 6 riot may be serving to dissuade similar violence in the future. One official noted that recent events expected to be violent turned out to be small and peaceful, perhaps because would-be attackers feared they would be arrested and prosecuted.
The bulletin states the U.S. remains in a “heightened threat environment.”
“Recent tragic events highlight the continued heightened threat environment our nation faces, and these threats are driven by violent extremists who seek to further their ideological beliefs and personal grievances,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement on the bulletin.
“We are working with partners across every level of government, within the private sector, and in local communities to keep Americans safe. We will continue to share information and intelligence, equip communities with training and resources, and fund security enhancement and prevention efforts through millions of dollars in grant funding.”
Other potential targets of violence include schools, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQ+ community, government personnel and law enforcement, the bulletin said.
Potential attackers could include both domestic violent extremists and those motivated by the ideology of foreign terrorist organizations, groups whose influence made up the vast majority of the terror threat in the U.S. following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.