US agency warns of extremist attacks ahead of 2024 election

Department of Homeland Security says threat of violence continues to remain high

Members of the US Army National Guard on patrol in New York's Grand Central Terminal. Reuters
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The US Department of Homeland Security warned on Thursday that the threat from domestic extremism remains high ahead of the November 2024 elections.

The warning comes despite the prosecution and imprisonment of hundreds – including members of extremist groups – over the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol.

“In 2024, we expect the threat of violence from violent extremists radicalised in the United States will remain high,” DHS said in its annual US threat assessment.

The threat from domestic violent extremists – those without particular international ties – and extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organisations is little changed, it said.

Both “will continue to be inspired and motivated by a mix of conspiracy theories; personalised grievances; and enduring racial, ethnic, religious, and anti-government ideologies, often shared online”, the DHS report said.

DHS said a key threat is from racially and ethnically motivated extremists who advocate race war.

In the past two years, several attacks by extremist groups have focused on communications and energy infrastructure, such as power plants, with the goal of stirring up fear and destabilising society.

Several people have also carried out racially motivated mass shootings.

The most recent incident occurred in late August in Jacksonville, Florida, when a 21-year-old white man killed three black people in a discount store before taking his own life.

During next year's election, DHS said, extremists motivated by conspiracy theories and anti-government grievances may also “seek to disrupt electoral processes”.

It warned of possible violence or threats against government officials, voters and election officials.

In addition, DHS said, “Russia, China and Iran are likely see the upcoming election season in 2024 as an opportunity to conduct overt and covert influence campaigns aimed at shaping favourable US policy outcomes and undermining US stability”.

Updated: September 14, 2023, 10:37 PM