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US faces heightened threat of politically-motivated violence from Trump supporters, DHS warns

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC, on January 6, 2021. (Photo by Getty Images)

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned that the country faces a growing threat of politically-motivated domestic violence from people angry at former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

The DHS said publicly for the first time on Wednesday that the nation still faces a heightened threat of domestic extremist violence after the deadly storming of the US Capitol on January 6.

The department, in a national terrorism advisory, did not specify a group that might mastermind any future attack, but made it clear that their motivation would include anger over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”

The advisory made a clear reference to Trump’s allegations that his election loss came as a result of widespread voter fraud.

Trump spent two months peddling the accusations and finally urged a crowd of his supporters to “fight like hell…to take back our county” in a fiery speech that led to the siege at congress building.

The DHS said it “is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021.”

The alert also warned about the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.”

The advisory said that the department does not have information indicating a “specific, credible plot,” however.

An intelligence official involved in drafting the bulletin also said that “the intent to engage in violence has not gone away.”

The official said that the decision to issue such a warning was driven by the DHS’ conclusion that President Joe Biden’s peaceful inauguration last week could create a false sense of security.

Biden took the oath of office under heavy security, with more than 20,000 National Guard troops on duty.

The DHS issued the alert as the department itself is accused of being reluctant during the Trump administration to publish intelligence reports or public warnings about the dangers posed by domestic extremists and white supremacist groups for fear of angering the former president, according to current and former homeland security officials.

Even after the department warned in September last year that white supremacists are a leading domestic terrorism threat, White House officials sought to suppress the phrase “domestic terrorism,” they said.

Intelligence officials also said their warnings were watered down, delayed or both.

Back in 2017, Trump supported a deadly extremist protest in Charlottesville, saying that there were "very fine people on both sides" of clashes.

White supremacists protested the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert Lee.

Trump played down any danger posed by extremist groups, back then.

And when racial justice protests erupted nationwide last year in response to the police killing of African-American George Floyd, and led to violence and destruction, Trump’s message was that it was the radical left that was to blame for the violence.

‘Security failure in Capitol attack’

Top US Capitol security officials have acknowledged their failure in protecting the Capitol, during the deadly attack by the Trump supporters on January 6.

In a statement on Tuesday, they apologized for “failings” citing a number of missteps, including conflicting intelligence, inadequate preparation and insufficient mobilization of partner agencies.

“I am here to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of the Department,” said Yogananda Pittman, the acting chief of Capitol Police.

“The Department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours,” she added.

Democratic Representative Tim Ryan said that a series of investigations were still in early stages, with many unanswered questions, about the violent incident which led to the death of five people.

The attack on the Capitol prompted a historic second impeachment vote against Trump at the US House of Representatives, on charges of “inciting insurrection.”

Authorities said about 5,000 troops will remain in Washington for the next few weeks, when Trump will face his impeachment trial in the Senate.

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