The Department of Homeland Security said it will be on ‘heightened alert’ this July 4th weekend for white supremacists looking to exploit states’ rollback of COVID-19 restrictions and attack a range of possible targets, officials told DailyMail.com.
The warning comes as officials say they’ve been monitoring a spike in online chatter that could indicate white supremacist-motivated attacks.
Homeland Security issued a National Terrorism Alert System (NTAS) Bulletin, which it it said it won’t release to the public at this time, but ABC News obtained it.
‘In recent weeks, domestic violent extremists (DVEs) motivated by various violent ideologies have continued to advocate violence and plan attacks,’ the bulletin said, according to ABC News.
‘As of 16 June, racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists (RMVE-WSs) were sharing downloadable links to a publication discussing targeting mass gatherings, critical infrastructure and law enforcement officers,’ it said.
The Fourth of July weekend will likely have the highest number of large gatherings in 15 months, with more than 30 states rolling back nearly all of its COVID-19 restrictions.
Secretary Of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a press conference at El Paso International Airport, on June 25. The DHS said it will be on high alert this July 4th weekend
Law enforcement, pictured here on patrol Times Square on June 28, are sharing information across all levels from local to federal to protect against potential domestic terrorist attacks during the July 4 weekend
There were 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions filed by U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country from October 2019 to October 2020, according to Department of Justice figures.
That’s the highest number in at least 25 years – and compares with 69 in 2017 and 63 in 2018 and 90 in 2019.
Meanwhile, a May 2021 FBI report said there were 32 domestic terrorist-related deaths in 2019, which was the highest since number since 1995. Of the 32 deaths, 24 people were killed in attacks committed by white supremacists, according to the report.
With large groups expected to congregate all over the country this weekend, gun violence increasing and domestic terrorism surging creates ‘the perfect storm,’ a senior law enforcement official told ABC News.
‘It’s a very volatile moment and it’s about to be a more target-rich environment.’
To prepare for potential attacks, a DHS spokesperson told DailyMail.com the DHS is focusing in on disinformation, conspiracy theories and false narratives spread through social media and other online platforms.
‘DHS is committed to sharing information with our partners to ensure the safety and security of all communities across the country. We encourage the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to local and state law enforcement, and the FBI.’
Last month, Homeland Security issued a similar bulletin alerting the public of the heightened threat environment and encouraging the public to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.
‘Today’s terrorism-related threat landscape is more complex, more dynamic, and more diversified than it was several years ago,’ Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement in May.
Fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial during the Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, DC, July 4, 2019
On June 15, the federal government issued the first-ever National Domestic Terrorism Strategy, and Biden administration highlighted the government’s approach.
According to a March assessment of domestic terrorism, the two most lethal elements are ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority of the white race’ and ‘anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists, such as militia violent extremists.’
‘The U.S. Government will also work to find ways to counter polarization often fueled by disinformation, misinformation and dangerous conspiracy theories online, supporting an environment that fosters healthy democratic discourse,’ the National Domestic Terrorism Strategy says.