The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States
The United States faces a growing terrorism problem that will likely worsen over the next year. Based on a CSIS data set of terrorist incidents, the most significant threat likely comes from white supremacists, though anarchists and religious extremists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda could present potential threats as well. Over the rest of 2020, the terrorist threat in the United States will likely rise based on several factors, including the November 2020 presidential election.
Domestic Terrorism Conference Report
The National Counterterrorism Center, together with FBI and DHS, held a conference September 23-24, 2019, to examine the U.S. government’s approach to confronting the threat of domestic terrorism (DT) and to inform future DT policy. The conference convened stakeholders from academia, the private sector, and across the federal government, including intelligence and Non-Title 50 agencies, to explore four themes: Terminology, Authorities, Operations, and Expanding Partnerships.
The Tactics and Targets of Domestic Terrorists
With a rise in domestic terrorism, it is increasingly important to analyze trends in terrorist tactics and targets. According to CSIS data, firearms were the most common weapon used in fatal attacks over the past five years by far-right, far-left, and Salafijihadist terrorists. In addition, the most common targets were individuals based on their ethnicity, race, or religion (such as African Americans, Latinos, Jews, and Muslims) for right-wing extremists; and government, military, and police targets for leftwing extremists and Salafi-jihadists.
An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada
This report represents the interim findings of a two-year study designed to increase understanding of the social media footprint of right-wing extremism (RWE) in Canada. This work is part of a larger project designed to understand RWE in Canada led by Ontario Tech University (OTU), in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of New Brunswick. This team are currently working on a similar project designed to map offline RWE in Canada. The project follows a similar study delivered in 2015, enabling researchers and policymakers to understand how RWE has changed in the past five years.
Demonstrations & Political Violence in America: New Data for Summer 2020
The US Crisis Monitor — a joint project between ACLED and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University— collects real-time data on these trends in order to provide timely analysis and resources to support civil society efforts to track, prevent, and mitigate the risk of political violence in America. With supplemental data collection extending coverage back to the week of Floyd’s killing in May, the dataset now encompasses the latest phase of the Black Lives Matter movement, growing unrest related to the health crisis, and politically motivated violence ahead of the November general election.
Far-Right Extremist Mobilization Surges During U.S. Unrest
The United States is experiencing significant turmoil right now, forced to confront three ongoing shocks: the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic’s economic impact, and the fluid socio-political effects of the nationwide protests against systemic anti-Black racism. These shocks have clear geopolitical implications and are already manifesting in areas ranging from global public health to inspiring other movements for racial equity. But, also relevant to U.S. national security concerns, non-state extremist actors have inserted themselves into events associated with these shocks — namely the anti-lockdown and anti-racism protests — to exploit the socio-political discontent behind them and further their ideological agendas.
The QAnon Conspiracy Theory: A Security Threat in the Making?
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which emerged in 2017, has quickly risen to prominence in the United States. A survey of cases of individuals who have allegedly or apparently been radicalized to criminal acts with a nexus to violence by QAnon, including one case that saw a guilty plea on a terrorism charge, makes clear that QAnon represents a public security threat with the potential in the future to become a more impactful domestic terror threat. This is true especially given that conspiracy theories have a track record of propelling terrorist violence elsewhere in the West as well as QAnon’s more recent influence on mainstream political discourse.
Intelligence Brief: A Conspiracy of Dunces: QAnon and the Threat to the U.S. Homeland
QAnon is a right-wing conspiratorial movement that blends, creates, alters, and co-opts ‘theories’ to fit an evolving narrative underpinned by the core notion that the ‘Deep State,’ led by a cabal of elitist pedophiles, is actively working to usurp President Donald Trump. Q’s identity is unknown, but those posting in the Q name desperately want its followers to believe that someone with a military intelligence background is unveiling secret knowledge to vanquish the ‘Deep State.’
Fact Sheet: Protecting Against Voter Intimidation
The U.S. Department of Justice has explained that voter intimidation is conduct that is intended to compel prospective voters to vote against their preferences, or to not vote at all, through activity that is reasonably calculated to instill fear. Some actions that ordinarily would be legal may be unlawful if they are intended to intimidate voters. Voter intimidation is often subtle and context-dependent, so it can be difficult to identify in advance. This fact sheet discusses some examples of conduct near polling sites that likely would constitute illegal voter intimidation, although other conduct could also qualify as voter intimidation.
Armed and Dangerous: How the Gun Lobby Enshrines Guns as Tools of the Extreme Right
This report examines the role of the gun lobby in exposing broader audiences to the potentially radicalizing messaging of the far right, fanning the flames of anger and fear in those already radicalized, and advocating for lax gun laws that enable violent extremists to arm themselves. The report further discusses what the dangerous confluence of reckless rhetoric, gun lobby influence, and armed extremism means for our democracy, in particular the prospect for extreme-right violence around the upcoming election. Unfortunately, there are several examples of extreme-right violence in the recent past in which these conditions resulted in tragedy.
Prohibiting Private Armies at Public Rallies
September 2020 (2nd Edition)
This report identifies state constitutional provisions and/or statutory prohibitions that target similar private military and paramilitary conduct in each of the 50 states. Although the lawsuit filed in Charlottesville sought injunctive relief as an important tool for preventing a repeat of the unlawful paramilitary activity engaged in by the defendants in Virginia, these state laws also can be used proactively by localities across the country as a basis for lawful time, place, and manner restrictions designed to minimize violence at future rallies.
Fact Sheets on Unlawful Militias for All 50 States Now Available from Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection
In anticipation of possible unlawful militias intimidating voters at the polls, Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP) has released fact sheets on unlawful militias for all 50 states. The fact sheets provide key information about lawful and unlawful militias, state laws prohibiting private militias and paramilitary activity, and what to do if citizens see groups of armed individuals near polling places.
Domestic Terrorism in the US, Disinformation and the Impact of COVID19
With everyone at home during quarantine and spending time online, white supremacists and other anti-government extremists have had ample opportunity to recruit new members. Indeed, the first half of 2020 may well prove to be a watershed moment in recruitment and propaganda for domestic terrorist groups and other violent extremists in the US. In these troubling times, when even the US president is a frequent purveyor of disinformation and conspiracy theories, uncertainty abounds.
As U.S. Elections Near, the Risk of Extremist Violence Increases
The United States continues to experience high levels of social and political polarization resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, its resulting economic downturn, and ongoing civil unrest. Both far-right and far-left extremists are exploiting these events to further their respective causes. The negative impacts of these shocks will likely intensify up to and past the Nov. 3 elections, into 2021. As a result, the country faces a growing risk of continued civil disturbance, including threats and acts of further political violence that strain limited law enforcement resources and further invite the potential for larger-scale violence.
Characteristics and Targets of Mass Casualty Hate Crime Offenders
Among violent hate crime offenders, those with the highest public profiles are individuals who commit, or intend to commit, mass casualty attacks. In BIAS, we define a “mass casualty” offender as an individual who perpetrated, or attempted to perpetrate, an attack with the intention of killing or injuring four or more people. BIAS data show that the situational characteristics of mass casualty attacks, as well as the profiles of the perpetrators themselves, differ from other violent hate crimes in important ways.