President Joe Biden has ordered the US intelligence community to work with law enforcement agencies to investigate what his administration calls “domestic violent extremism” after the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that Mr Biden had requested Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to conduct "a comprehensive threat assessment, co-ordinated with the FBI and the [Department of Homeland Security] on domestic violent extremism".
“The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat,” Ms Psaki said. “The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”
She said the National Security Council would also work on countering violent extremists, including by improving information sharing across the government and efforts to “prevent radicalisation” and “disrupt violent extremist networks”.
The disclosure by Ms Psaki is an acknowledgement of the national security threat posed by American extremists motivated to violence by extremist ideology. The involvement of the director of national intelligence, an office created after the September 11 attacks to stop international terrorism, suggests that authorities are looking at a tighter focus on home grown extremists.
The deadly January 6 riot carried out by supporters of former president Donald Trump was aimed at preventing Congress from counting Mr Biden's Electoral College votes, the final step in the election. Some of the people arrested for the insurrection so far have ties to white supremacist and militia groups, according to law enforcement officials.
“We want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy,” Ms Psaki said, describing Mr Biden’s directive as the first step.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray has said that, over the last year, the most lethal violence has come from anti-government groups, such as anarchists and militia groups.