US terrorism alert warns of politically motivated violence

No specific threat given but Department of Homeland Security says there is lingering anti-government sentiment

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 17, 2021 a member of the Boogaloo Boys stands armed with an assault rifle, gas mask and combat helmet outside of the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem, during a nationwide protest called by anti-government and far-right groups supporting US President Donald Trump and his claim of electoral fraud in the November 3 presidential election. The US Department of Homeland Security declared a nationwide terrorism alert January 27, 2021, citing the potential threat from domestic anti-government extremists after Joe Biden was sworn in as president. / AFP / Mathieu Lewis-Rolland
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The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin on Wednesday, warning of the potential for violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment.

It suggested that the January 6 riot at the Capitol in Washington DC may embolden extremists and set the stage for more attacks.

The department did not mention a specific threat, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment" across the US, which it believed persisted even after President Joe Biden took office on January 20.

"Information suggests that some ideologically motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of government authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives, could continue to mobilise to incite or commit violence," the bulletin said.

It did not mention any ideological or political affiliation.

It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins and advisories about the possibility of violence tied to a particular date or event, such as July 4.

But this bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, places the Biden administration in the politically charged debate over how to classify acts motivated by political ideology.

It suggests that it considers violence aimed at overturning the election as being akin to terrorism.

The wording of the document suggests that security officials see a connection between violence over the past year that was motivated by anti-government grievances, such as Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results or police use of force.

It also singles out racially motivated acts of violence, such as the 2019 rampage against Hispanics in Texas, and the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terrorist organisations.

The alert came only weeks after the riot at the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump, who were seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election.

The bulletin also notes violent riots in “recent days", apparently referring to events in Portland, Oregon, linked to anarchist groups.

The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske.

Mr Biden's nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.