DHS Issues New Terrorism Threat Alert as 9/11 Anniversary Approaches

( MSN )

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin warning of the threat of extremist violence as the coronavirus spreads widely again and the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks approaches.

"The Homeland continues to face a diverse and challenging threat environment leading up to and following the 20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well religious holidays we assess could serve as a catalyst for acts of targeted violence," the bulletin says. "These threats include those posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences."

The threats are "exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions," DHS said.

DHS issues the terrorism advisory bulletins periodically to describe the threat landscape to the homeland. Friday's advisory echoes some threats from the most recent bulletin, issued in May, but included new information and is in some cases more detailed and specific.

Friday's advisory, like the one in May, warns of the threat of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists that sometimes target houses of worship. Several Jewish holidays fall in September, including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

"These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks. Pandemic-related stressors have contributed to increased societal strains and tensions, driving several plots by domestic violent extremists, and they may contribute to more violence this year," the bulletin says.

Upcoming religious holidays and currently relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions that allow for large gatherings and the reopening of schools and institutions could provide increased targets for attacks, though DHS says it does not have information of any credible and specific threats.

Friday's bulletin also warned that foreign terrorist groups have stepped up efforts to inspire homegrown terrorists in the lead up to the anniversary of 9/11.

According to the advisory, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula recently released the first English-language issue of its Inspire magazine in more than four years, demonstrating that "foreign terrorist organizations continue efforts to inspire U.S.-based individuals susceptible to violent extremist influences."

The bulletin notes that foreign and domestic actors continue to spread online misinformation and calls for violence against officials, law enforcement, government and religious buildings, and people with opposing ideological views. Some of those calls for violence are connected to "conspiracy theories on perceived election fraud and alleged reinstatement, and responses to anticipated restrictions relating to the increasing COVID cases," the bulletin said.

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