On March 16, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released an unclassified version of its intelligence community’s assessment of domestic violent extremism in the U.S. The joint report with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded that U.S. “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) who promote the superiority of the white race are the domestic violent extremist (DVE) actors with the most persistent and concerning transnational connections because individuals with similar ideological beliefs exist outside of the United States and these RMVEs frequently communicate with and seek to influence each other.”

The investigation looked at five categories of violent extremists:

  • Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.
  • Animal rights violent extremists
  • Abortion related violent extremists
  • Anti-government, anti-authority violent extremists
  • All other domestic terrorism threats
Categories of Domestic Violent Extremists/ODNI Unclassified Summary of Domestic Violent Extremism

A primary contention of the report centers around the belief that the “narratives” and events of the last year have “elevated the threat to the Homeland in 2021.” The report states that “narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” are phenomena that drive DVE radicalization and mobilization to violence. Additionally, the investigation found that RMVEs and militia violent extremists (MVAs) are the most likely to be lethal. RMVEs tend to carry out mass-casualty attacks, and MVAs typically target law enforcement, government personnel, and facilities.

According to the IC report, the rise of social media platforms and encrypted communication applications has made it easier to recruit, rally, organize, mobilize, and disseminate information. The report also indicates that perceptions of government overreach and policy changes may drive people to become radicalized. Lone wolf attacks continue to pose the biggest threat because they are more likely to carry out violent attacks than those in DVE groups. A lone offender is much more likely to “pose significant detection and disruption challenges because of their capacity for independent radicalization to violence, ability to mobilize discretely, and access to
firearms.”

A statement from FBI Director, Christopher Wray during testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, indicated a focus on white supremacy as a prime motivator for recent acts of Domestic Terrorism. “The top threat we face from [domestic violent extremists] continues to be those we identify as Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs), specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.” The hearing was a response to the events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, touted by many Congressmen as a “violent insurrection.”

Wray continued at the hearing by stating, “Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away any time soon.”

The unclassified report is strictly a narrative report. There is no indication of what databases were utilized, what informed the data-selection process, and who reviewed or double-checked the data for accuracy.