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  • The 2017 Charlottesville riot brought right-wing terrorism into focus. (Photo:
    The 2017 Charlottesville riot brought right-wing terrorism into focus. (Photo: Anthony Crider)

    Right-wing attacks and plots have accounted for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, while the number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years. 

    The Department of Homeland Security today (Jan. 27) raised a new set of concerns in a bulletin issued by its National Terrorism Advisory System.

    The bulletin warned of a “heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration.”

    “Information suggests that some ideologically motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” it stated.

    The bulletin follows a whistleblower complaint filed in September that Trump directed analysts to downplay the threat of white supremacy.

    A threat assessment was delayed for months until the whistleblower sparked protests in Congress.

    The latest findings are similar to a report last June by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Among the most significant findings: right-wing terrorism has eclipsed Islamic-related terrorism as the biggest threat to the security of the country.

    And, that was before right-wing extremists and Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, leading to five deaths and dozens of injuries.

    Since the attack, the threat of domestic terrorism has moved to the front burner. State and federal law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI is finally taking it seriously.

    President Joe Biden set the tone with his determination to counter the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism” in his inaugural speech.

    The center analyzed 893 plots and attacks in the United States between January 1994 and May 2020 to measure the extent of the terrorist threat.

    It found the following:

    — Far-right terrorism has significantly outpaced terrorism from other types of perpetrators, including from far-left networks and individuals inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

    — Right-wing attacks and plots account for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years.

    — Right-wing extremists perpetrated two thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019 and over 90 percent between January 1 and May 8, 2020. 

    More chillingly, it concludes that terrorism in the United States will likely increase over the next year in part because of Donald Trump’s defeat in the Nov. election.

    The Capitol attack brought into focus the potential for violence.

    An American mob raised working gallows outside the Capitol, carried a Confederate flag through the building and placed improvised explosive devices at the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees, according to USAToday.

    Inside the Capitol, windows were smashed and offices ransacked. One attacker brought 11 Molotov cocktails and an assault rifle, another stalked the Senate floor with a fistful of flex-cuffs.

    Vice President Mike Pence, who drew Trump’s wrath, was threatened with hanging; others threatened to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress.

    Ultimately, a police officer was killed and dozens of other officers were hurt as well as one protester, who was shot.

    The FBI finally appears to be taking right-wing terrorism seriously. The agency has made more than 150 riot arrests and is searching for 200 others.

    But some concerns have been raised whether the Biden administration will keep its focus on the problem. At issue is Russ Travers, who is emerging as Biden’s point person domestic terrorism.

    Travers will be Biden’s new deputy homeland-security adviser, who likely will oversee any administration initiative.

    The problem is Travers spent four decades in the intelligence and security apparatus, rising to become acting head of the National Counterterrorism Center, with a strong focus on Islamic terrorism, according to Spencer Ackerman at Daily Beast.

    He reportedly believes right-wing extremism is still a “fringe phenomenon.”

    The concern is he’ll continue to focus the administration’s attention on Islamic terrorism and ignore or under play the threat of right-wing terrorism.

    He recently described the nature of the current terrorism threat as coming from “people inspired by radical Islam but also from non-Islamist extremists,” even though data currently available makes clear that the threat from far-right extremists is significantly greater, according to the article.

    The Capitol riot marked a key turning point. The nation must now decide whether it remains a democracy with respect for our institutions, or whether it caves to the more base instincts of mob rule.

    That process needs to begin with Trump’s impeachment for clearing inciting the riot. It would send the wrong message if rioters were prosecuted, but not higher-ups who incited the violence.

    The president’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election–a 150 year tradition– and his demonstrably false claims of election fraud laid the groundwork and justification for the riot.

    Rudy Giuliani, who call for “trial by combat” in a fiery speech yesterday, also should be charged with inciting a riot as well as Trump’s sons.

    This isn’t “Alice in Wonderland;” words have meaning. When they encourage and incite a riot against the government they are unlawful and seditious.