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DHS warns in annual report of ongoing threat posed by domestic and foreign terrorists

Domestic and foreign terrorism remain among the top threats facing the nation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detailed in its annual threat assessment. 

The threat of terrorism remains largely unchanged, but officials warn lone actors and small groups still pose the greatest risk to the public in the year ahead.

“Terrorists both foreign and domestic remain a top threat to the homeland. During the next year, we assess that the threat of violence from individuals radicalized in the United States will remain high but largely unchanged from the assessment made throughout … the last year,” a senior DHS official said on a call with reporters. “And this threat is marked by lone offenders and small groups seeking to conduct attacks with little to no warning.”

The report notes that since January 2022 domestic violent extremists have conducted three fatal attacks responsible for 21 deaths.

The report, filed annually, comes ahead of a fall slate of hearings dedicated to reviewing the varying threats against the United States.

It notes that critical infrastructure will continue to be a potential target of terrorist attacks, a focus they believe would allow them to be the most disruptive of American’s daily way of life, whether through launching cyber or physical attacks.

The assessment also reviews migration patterns, saying that record number of arrivals at the border has complicated security and also led to an increase in the overall number of those flagged as having possible terrorist ties.

“Record encounters of migrants arriving from a growing number of countries have complicated border and immigration security. We’ve encountered a growing number of individuals in the terrorist screening dataset, also known as the watch list,” the official said.

DHS noted that inclusion on the list could mean being an associate of an individual connected to terrorism, as well as those “directly engaged in terrorist activity.”

The report also nods to changes by the Biden administration to limit the number of those permitted to enter the country.

Still, it notes, despite declines after the May policy changes, “overall encounters for the fiscal year are on pace to nearly match 2022’s record high total.”

From foreign adversaries, the report warns that many will continue to use disinformation to influence the Americans, a threat DHS said was accelerating with advancements in AI.

“[Artificial intelligence] enables the rapid creation of an endless supply of higher quality, more idiomatically correct text, providing influence actors the ability to expand their messaging and give it a greater aura of credibility,” the report states.

The report marks a shift on how DHS plans to alert the public about potential threats, something the department previously did through National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletins.

“In the future, the issuance of NTAS bulletins will be reserved for situations where we need to alert the public about a specific or imminent terrorist threat or about a change in the terrorism threat level,” it says.

Source: The Hill

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