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Year-end report: The threat of domestic terrorism in the United States has risen in 2022

Profile photo: Flowers are placed outside the supermarket where the racist shooting took place in Buffalo, New York, USA. (20 May 2022)
Profile photo: Flowers are placed outside the supermarket where the racist shooting took place in Buffalo, New York, USA. (20 May 2022)

WASHINGTON — Early one morning in December, thousands of German police launched a nationwide raid, arresting 25 people in connection with a plot by far-right groups to overthrow the German government.

More arrests have also been made in Austria and Italy, all linked to the Reichsbuerger movement, which the German government describes as a conspiracy-driven group inspired in part by the Q Anonymous movement in the United States.

The arrests, which include a descendant of the German royal family, a former parliamentarian, and a former German special forces soldier, have sparked calls

for the German government to review security measures and investigate possible infiltration by extremists against German forces.

Counterterrorism officials said the arrests also underscored the changing and the increasingly complex situation facing Western countries in 2022 and in the years to come.

After the raid in Germany, Joshua Geltzer, deputy White House adviser for homeland security, told the Center for a New America Security: “This is really a very difficult ongoing problem.”

Gelzer added: “There is a transnational dimension to the category of violent extremism, in particular, that is racially or ethnically motivated. He also noted that U.S. officials have found members of far-right extremist groups traveling elsewhere for training, while some money flows back and forth between different groups.

But Geltz and other officials said the campaign was mostly about sharing propaganda aimed at recruiting new followers.

Those followers include American Payton Gendron, a 19-year-old white gunman who recently pleaded guilty to murder, hate, and terrorism charges in killing 10 African-Americans at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, 2022.

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Speaking at a conference outside Washington, D.C., Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas noted a “dramatic” increase in the growth of such extremist ideas and the threat of individual action in the United States, and warned of “the growth of anti-government sentiment.”

A month later, the Department of Homeland Security reissued a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin, warning the United States of an “environment of heightened threats.”

“Individual offenders and small groups driven by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances continue to pose a constant and deadly threat to the homeland,” DHS noted in the announcement.

U.S. officials and experts say that despite the growing anti-government and anti-authority ideology, it is driven by a volatile ideology that shows little sign of dissipating, making it harder to contain the threat.

Colin Clarke, director of research at The Soufan Group, a global intelligence firm, told the media: “I think we may see a continued diversification of threats.”

“Homegrown violent extremism, jihadist-inspired attacks, and the persistence of far-right forces are likely to continue to pose a threat in 2023,” he told the media via email. But these are likely to be accompanied by a surge in other ‘types’ of terrorist attacks, including neo-Luddites/technophobes (attacking infrastructure and 5G networks), so-called ‘Incels’ – a branch of violent misogynists – and conspiracy-driven terrorism that overlaps with ‘Anonymous Q’ and other factions heavily influenced by disinformation.

In response to the rise in domestic terrorism, the U.S. Department of Justice has become a new department over the past year dedicated to the growing number of cases.

Just a month after the Justice Department made the announcement, a key Department of Homeland Security official warned that the threat environment had become more severe.

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John Cohen, the acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, said, “We see … Increasingly concrete calls for violence.

Cohen warned that inflammatory rhetoric in the United States also has foreign connections.

He noted that foreign intelligence agencies and foreign terrorist organizations are also “spreading socio-political content … to sow discord”, noting that “in fact, these narratives have led to attacks in our country.” ”

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