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US security agencies have issued an increased threat advisory, warning of potential attacks on political candidates, election officials and others. The alert came Friday, the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi husband was assaulted at their home in San Francisco.
NPR obtained the bulletin published by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the US Capitol Police.
Attacks by lone actors pose the most plausible threat to potential targets, the bulletin warns. The risk of violence is fueled by an increase in domestic violent extremism, and those who carry out the attacks are likely to do so for ideological reasons.
Most individuals are likely citing the 2020 presidential election, repeating the false narrative that the results were skewed and former President Donald Trump was the rightful winner, according to the warning.
Since 2021, perceptions of a fraudulent election have contributed to several violent attacks or plots, and the newsletter added that new theories of fraud undermining midterm elections have emerged.
The notice says that last month domestic violent extremists were identified as saying the electoral system was “under attack” and threatening violence against politicians.
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, President Biden on Friday called on political figures to “clearly and unambiguously” reject political violencecalling the attack on the Pelosi “despicable”.
The president, citing reports, drew connections to what Friday’s striker allegedly said – chanting ‘Where’s Nancy?’ — and what the rioters said during the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“What makes us think a party can talk about a stolen election, COVID being a hoax, it’s a whole bunch of lies – and it doesn’t affect people who maybe aren’t so balanced? What makes us think it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” he said.
In the bulletin, law enforcement officials warned that the threat of violence extends beyond just politicians, with religious minorities also listed as a potential target.
“We are evaluating some [domestic violent extremists] motivated by election-related grievances would likely view infrastructure, staff and voters involved in the electoral process as attractive targets – including in publicly accessible places such as polling places, ballot boxes, voter registration sites voters, campaign events and political party offices,” the bulletin reads.
He warned that extremists could target election-related locations in the hope of “influencing voting patterns, undermining perceptions of the legitimacy of the voting process or provoking a government response”.