The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned of an increase in extremist content and threats against US lawmakers in the days leading up to the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurgency, according to a note obtained by the Guardian.
The note, sent to state and local law enforcement on Thursday, said DHS had no indication of a specific and credible conspiracy, but that the agency and the FBI had “identified new online content that could inspire violence, especially by isolated offenders, and could be directed against politicians and other government officials, including members of Congress, state and local officials, and high-level members of political parties, including in places outside [Washington DC]”.
John Cohen, head of DHS’s intelligence and analysis office, described a range of content on “extremist-related platforms” that was of concern.
In one case, an “unknown person” posted a video online listing 95 members of Congress who the video said participated in the vote to certify the presidential election “fraudulent”, echoing far-right disinformation that has spread since last year. The video called for hanging members of Congress outside the White House and was posted on a forum that hosts QAnon conspiracy theories and was reposted by Telegram users and on blogs. The video has been viewed more than 60,000 times across all platforms, according to the memo. Cohen also cautioned against a separate publication referring to January 6 “as an appropriate day to carry out assassinations against named Democratic politicians, including [the president], due to the perceived fraudulent election ”.
The U.S. Secret Service, Capitol Police, and DC Metropolitan Police agencies were aware of the online activity and have opened investigations “where appropriate,” Cohen wrote in the memo, adding that the Federal Service Protection had also extended patrols in and around federal facilities. across the United States.
The note comes amid reports of a sharp increase in threats against lawmakers over the past year. Earlier Thursday, Joe Biden denounced Donald Trump for spreading a “web of lies” about the 2020 election and accused Trump and his allies of holding a “dagger in the throat of American democracy.”