The Department of Homeland Security has released new guidelines on “extremist” behavior, which include questioning the 2020 presidential election or promoting “conspiracy theories” about the COVID pandemic and mandates.
The memo, titled Report to the Secretary of Homeland Security Domestic Violent Extremism Internal Review: Observations, Findings, and Recommendations claims the “sociopolitical developments” of the 2020 election and the COVID pandemic could “spur domestic violent extremists” to “engage in violence.”
A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”
The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.”
Notably, over half of the U.S. population question or doubt the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The guidance also calls for more funding for the DHS’ “Insider Threat Program” to identify and purge any DHS employees who “may be displaying early indicators of extremist behavior or may be radicalizing to violence.”
“Additional funding is necessary to resource these efforts, as this will greatly enhance the Department’s ability to identify and address violent extremist activity and protect from insider threats,” the memo states.
Interestingly, the memo acknowledges the DHS struggles to define exactly what “extremist behavior” actually means.