Since 2018, white supremacists in the US have carried out more deadly attacks than any other domestic extremist movement. This shows the “longstanding intent” to target racial and religious minorities, members of the LGBTQ + community, politicians and those they believe are promoting multiculturalism and globalization, according to the report.
“As a secretary, I am concerned about all forms of violent extremism,” wrote Acting Secretary of State for Homeland Security, Chad Wolf. “However, I am particularly concerned about violent extremists from the white supremacists, who have been exceptionally fatal in their heinous, targeted attacks in recent years.”
The assessment, which comes less than a month before election day, was the subject of a recent whistleblower complaint alleging political influence over the ministry. White supremacy was at the forefront of the first presidential debate last week when President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy. Instead, he blamed what he called “Antifa and the Left”
; for violence and called on the far-right Proud Boys to “step back and stand by”.
Days later he condemned “all white supremacists,” telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I condemn the KKK, I condemn all white supremacists, I condemn the Proud Boys.”
Concerns about white supremacy caught on with voters ahead of the presidential election. Most voters in a recent CNN poll (64%) say Trump hasn’t done enough to denounce white supremacist groups after being asked to do so in the debate. In the case of colored people, this value rises to 76%.
Russia and the presidential election
Regarding foreign influence in the US, the department concluded that Russia is the “most likely covert influencer and provider” of disinformation and misinformation.
The report found that Russia is using online operations to influence US voters in elections. Moscow’s main goal is to undermine the US electoral process and to divide and destabilize America.
Russia’s efforts have included denigrating former Vice President Joe Biden and what it sees as the anti-Russian “establishment”.
China and Iran are also seen as threats to the US elections, with China aiming to denigrate the government and try to promote US policies geared towards its interests. Iran will continue to promote its foreign policy and seek to increase social tensions in the US, the report said.
“The longest-term strategic threat to Americans, the homeland and the way we live is the threat posed by China,” Wolf tweeted Tuesday of the assessment, which led to the conclusion that China is questioning America’s place as the world’s global economic leader.
Last month, DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy, who previously headed the ministry’s intelligence division, said in the complaint that senior political officials had instructed DHS officials to align intelligence ratings with Trump’s agenda by citing Russia’s efforts to do so meddling in the US and downplaying the threat it posed to White Supremacists. Murphy was reassigned because of concern that his office was collecting and disseminating information about US reporters.
Wolf has denied that the department attempted to mitigate the threat. “I think if you look at the document, Russia is mentioned somewhere between 30 and 40 times in the document. So if we were to try to downplay Russia, we would not have done a very good job, I would say,” he told CBS News, which first published the rating on Tuesday.
Murphy claimed he had been directed to amend the section of assessing white supremacy “to make the threat appear less severe and to include information on the importance of violent” leftist “groups”.
The final threat analysis concludes: White supremacist extremists “will remain the most persistent and deadly threat in the homeland”. Leaked draft versions of the report had slightly different language and placement in relation to the threat.
The report also looks at the exploitation of nationwide protests by so-called anti-government and anarchist groups. As the department developed the threat assessment, officials noted “a new and alarming trend towards exploitation of legitimate protests that caused violence, death and destruction”.
A significant increase in violence against law enforcement and government symbols in 2020 was estimated to have been partly linked to an influence of anarchist ideology. During the most recent protests, DHS police officers were attacked with sledgehammers, commercial fireworks, stones, metal pipes and improvised explosive devices.
“This violence, perpetrated by anarchist extremists and detailed in numerous public statements that are still available on the DHS website, is a serious threat to the home country, undermining officials and public safety, as well as our values and way of life” wrote Wolf.