We are seeing expressions of violent extremism, born of false ideologies, false narratives, ideologies of hate. And we are seeing the potential connectivity to violence, which is where we step in. — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
We are seeing expressions of violent extremism, born of false ideologies, false narratives, ideologies of hate. And we are seeing the potential connectivity to violence, which is where we step in. — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

What we learned from January 6 is that as it relates to the current threat environment, you have to pay attention to that which we’re seeing right in front of our face. You have to pay attention to what you’re saying on public and online platforms. — Homeland Security Intelligence chief John Cohen
What we learned from January 6 is that as it relates to the current threat environment, you have to pay attention to that which we’re seeing right in front of our face. You have to pay attention to what you’re saying on public and online platforms. — Homeland Security Intelligence chief John Cohen

Calls for violence online similar to before January 6 Capitol attack, DHS Intel chief says
There have been online comments such as "the system is broken," "take action into their own hands" and "bring out the gallows," Cohen said, offering as paraphrases of what has been observed.

While the conspiracy theories vary, there has been an ongoing narrative focused on the false premise that the presidential election was illegitimate, Cohen said. That narrative is paired with an increase in calls for violence to rectify the situation.

His comments come as the Department of Homeland Security issued a new terrorism bulletin warning the public about increasingly complex and volatile threats and days after DHS alerted state and local authorities to an increase in calls for violence online tied to election-related conspiracy theories.

"It's very similar to the stuff we saw prior to January 6," said Cohen, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis senior official performing the duties of the under secretary. But the comments have stopped short of specific dates and threats, he noted.

Several swirling conspiracy theories point to a process that will change the results of the election.

"Concern from a law enforcement perspective is at a certain point in time, all of the conspiracy theories that point to a change occurring through process are going to sort of wear out. And the question is going to be, are people going to try to resort to violence, in or in furtherance of, that false narrative?" Cohen said.

... "These actors are increasingly exploiting online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity," it reads.

Threats are exacerbated by impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the bulletin says, including "grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions."

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday, in a separate interview on CNN, "We are seeing expressions of violent extremism, born of false ideologies, false narratives, ideologies of hate. And we are seeing the potential connectivity to violence, which is where we step in," adding that these threats prompted the department to renew the terrorism alert.

He urged the American public to stay vigilant and if anyone sees something of great concern, from a public safety perspective, to report it to local authorities or the federal government.


... Part of what is fueling the current threat is that foreign and domestic threat actors -- specifically foreign intelligence services, international terrorist organizations and domestic extremist thought leaders -- use online platforms to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories for the express purpose of trying to sow discord and incite violence, Cohen told CNN.

DHS continues to be "very concerned" that people inspired by what they see online will engage in violent activity in furtherance of these online narratives, he added.

Foreign nation-states have focused on sowing discord related to resurgence of Covid-19 around the idea that public health restrictions are somehow an infringement on one's freedom, or calling into question the US government's response to the pandemic, he said.

"What we're seeing -- mainly from China, Russia and Iran -- currently is a lot of focus on the Covid issue," Cohen added.

... former acting DHS Intelligence chief Brian Murphy alleged that top DHS political appointees had repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit President Donald Trump's agenda by downplaying Russia's efforts to interfere in the US and the threat posed by White supremacists.

Most recently, the office was faulted for not producing a bulletin or warning about the potential for violence at the US Capitol on January 6.

The attack that unfolded on the US Capitol was a "stark illustration" of the need to gather and evaluate threats of violence online, Cohen said.

A significant part of the current threat environment comes from individuals who are influenced by what they see online, he said.

According to Cohen, the tendency in the past, particularly when looking at al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist threats, was to place a higher emphasis on information collected through covert means, specific to a credible plot.

"What we learned from January 6 is that as it relates to the current threat environment, you have to pay attention to that which we're seeing right in front of our face. You have to pay attention to what you're saying on public and online platforms," Cohen said.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/13/politics/violence-online-similar-january-6-dhs-intel-chief/index.html