The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday. It warns of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment following the election.
It suggests the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol may embolden extremists.
Nancy Soderberg is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She served as the third-ranking official on the Clinton Administration’s National Security Council and now teaches at the University of North Florida.
“It is absolutely terrifying,” Soderberg said of the riot. “It’s downright un-American, and we need to come together and push back and say, ‘This is not the American way.’ You can have all the disagreements you want. I love a good argument. But violence and intimidation has no place in this society.”
Homeland Security pointed to a “heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” in the weeks since President Joe Biden took office.
The department says it consulted with law enforcement and intelligence agencies before issuing the alert about the potential for homegrown violent extremism.
“I think right now it’s just a weird time. And a new administration’s taking office in Washington. There’s still those who question the election a couple of months ago, and it’s really time to come together, support a new president and stop threatening each other,” Soderberg said.
She said the warning puts the American public “on notice,” and that most of all, it’s a warning against potential threats.
“We need to take it very seriously,” Soderberg said. “I think the average person is not at risk, but our leaders certainly are, and we just need to lower the temperature and take a breath and say, ‘We are not at war among ourselves.’”
The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate.
Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups.