The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Nov. 30 issued a warning about a “heightened threat environment” ahead of the holiday season in the United States.
“Our homeland continues to face a heightened threat environment—as we have seen, tragically, in recent acts of targeted violence—and is driven by violent extremists seeking to further a political or social goal or act on a grievance,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Faith-based institutions, government buildings, U.S. infrastructure, schools, and public gatherings could be targeted by groups of people or lone actors who might have “a range of ideological beliefs” and “personal grievances” in the coming weeks and months, the DHS’s National Terrorism Advisory System stated in a Nov. 30 bulletin.
The bulletin is the seventh of its kind since January 2021 after President Joe Biden took over, and it’s set to run through May 24, 2023.
The bulletin made reference to the Nov. 19 mass shooting targeting a gay bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Officials haven’t established a motive in the shooting, and the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Aldrich, later identified himself as “nonbinary” and used “they/them pronouns,” according to lawyers.
“Perceptions of government overreach continue to drive individuals to attempt to commit violence targeting government officials and law enforcement officers. Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances based on perceptions that the government is overstepping its Constitutional authorities or failing to perform its duties,” the DHS added.
Other Alleged Threats
Other threats, the DHS stated, could be linked to Islamist terrorism. ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was recently killed in a battle in Syria, the terrorist group reportedly confirmed, marking the second ISIS leader to die in 2022.
“Recent incidents have highlighted the enduring threat to faith-based communities, including the Jewish community. In early November 2022, an individual in New Jersey was arrested for sharing a manifesto online that threatened attacks on synagogues,” the DHS bulletin stated. “The individual admitted to writing the document, in which he claimed to be motivated by … (ISIS) and hatred towards Jewish people.”
A view of the home of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi where her husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently assaulted after a break-in at their house, according to a statement from her office, in San Francisco, Calif., on Oct. 28, 2022. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
The bulletin also noted the alleged attack targeting outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband, Paul, in late October. Court papers filed by local and federal prosecutors say the suspect, David DePape, 42, broke into their San Francisco home, made threatening statements, and later attacked Pelosi with a hammer.
“While violence surrounding the November midterm elections was isolated, we remain vigilant that heightened political tensions in the country could contribute to individuals mobilizing to violence based on personalized grievances. Over the past few months we observed general calls for violence targeting elected officials, candidates, and ballot drop box locations,” the DHS stated.
“In October 2022 in San Francisco, California, an individual allegedly broke into the home of a Member of Congress and attacked their spouse with a hammer.”
DePape, according to DHS, was “allegedly inspired by partisan grievances and conspiracy theories.” However, people who know DePape have called the incident into question, said that he previously held progressive viewpoints, and said he wasn’t violent.
NBC News also retracted a report on Nov. 4 in which journalist Miguel Almaguer cited sources who gave conflicting information about the attack. No explanation was given by the network, and NBC hasn’t responded to several requests for comment.
In the retracted report, Almaguer wrote that Paul Pelosi had opened the door when police arrived, and he then went back toward DePape. Court papers state that when police arrived, they saw Pelosi and DePape struggling over a hammer before DePape struck the elderly man in the head.
“Potential changes in border security enforcement policy, an increase in noncitizens attempting to enter the U.S., or other immigration-related developments may heighten these calls for violence,” the DHS stated, likely referring to the agency’s move to drop the Title 42 border enforcement policy.
DHS is the agency that oversees Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.