WASHINGTON – The coronavirus pandemic and its social repercussions are fueling the violence of frustrated individuals and domestic terrorists, according to a new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security obtained by NBC News.
The unclassified report from a Florida field office cites two incidents involving suspected domestic extremists and two incidents in Florida that DHS has classified as non-ideological.
On March 24, says the DHS report, "a racially motivated violent extremist white supremacist extremist beliefs died after a confrontation with FBI agents in Missouri while trying to arrest him for plotting to blow up a local hospital ".
The man had been the target of a domestic terrorism investigation for conspiring to commit an act of terrorism – specifically bombing – and considered several targets, including a school with a large population of black students, a synagogue and a mosque, according to the newspaper. FBI. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, the man reportedly opted to target a local hospital with a vehicle bomb to cause serious damage and mass casualties, according to the FBI.
The DHS report cites another incident in mid-March, when a man from New Mexico was charged with two counts of interstate threat communication after allegedly threatening the life of the New Mexico governor when she announced the closure of all schools and the ban on large public meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a federal criminal complaint.
The man, who adopted the extremist ideology against the government, posted a message on the New Mexico Governor's Office social media website, saying, "Time to get your rifles and kill this governor so we can reinstate the constitution as New York law. Mexico. I ended the corrupt government. They will serve the people or they will die, "according to the complaint.
"The individual also posted an additional threat online to kill all police and government officials found violated by the Constitution, saying he was prepared to die because of him," says the DHS report, citing the criminal complaint.
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Two incidents in Florida were not linked to domestic extremism, but they are still noteworthy, according to the report.
On March 29, a Jacksonville man allegedly sprayed the entrance to a pet store with a bottle called "COVID-19" and then told employees and customers that they were infected with the virus. The man was arrested on federal charges related to weapons of mass destruction and was released from prison on $ 15,000 bail, according to the local sheriff.
On March 24, a man was arrested for threatening to blow up Orlando Police Department headquarters and other nearby buildings with four bombs, because people are being "put out of work" due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the report of the Orlando Police Department.
The man reportedly made the threat over the phone approximately two hours after the Orlando Mayor announced an order to stay home throughout the county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is accused of false reporting of a bomb attack and illegal use of a two-way communication device, according to press reports.
"Domestic terrorists and other violent extremist actors are likely to continue to threaten domestic violence in response to the COVID-19 pandemic until the virus is contained and the normal routine of US social life is resumed," says the DHS report. "As the COVID-19 threat expands in the United States, the violent extremist threat will also continue to evolve, potentially increasing in frequency and severity."
Social detachment meant canceling mass collection events that have historically been attractive targets for national and international terrorists, the report adds, but "the pandemic has created a new source of anger and frustration for some individuals. As a result, violent extremist conspiracies are likely it will involve individuals seeking symbolic targets for their personal complaints ".