Joint FBI/DHS report outlines ‘persistent threat’ of white supremacist groups

A summary of this report will appear in the 18 August Executive Intelligence Summary.

In May 2017, the FBI and DHS published a Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) entitled, “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence’.  In this JIB, analysts assess that “lone actors and small cells” within the white supremacist community “pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”  Here are the highlights of the report:

  • White supremacist extremist (WSE) members carried out six attacks in 2016, all of which were opportunistic in nature.  Most of these 2016 attacks featured edged weapons, as opposed to firearms.
  • WSEs committed 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016; most of which included firearms.
  • Since 2000, racial minorities have been the primary victims of WSE attacks.
  • The second most-common victims of WSE violence are Caucasians.  Victims included “the homeless, drug dealers, sex offenders, and other white supremacists perceived as disloyal to the WSE movement.”
  • Due to the “decentralized and often disorganized” nature of the WSE movement, FBI and DHS analysts assess that most attacks in the future will likely be carried out by lone actors or small cells.
  • Spontaneous attacks against targets of opportunity are more likely than mass casualty attacks.
  • Of note: “The WSE movement is experiencing widespread infighting and a lack of charismatic leadership,” which has degraded their ability to organize and sustain membership.

Download the Joint Intelligence Bulletin here.


Analyst Comment: This report was leaked as a result of the murder of an antifascist protestor at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA.  This report contains a graph (below) of lethal attacks and fatalities by year.  Putting these numbers in context is important.  49 deaths over the course of 17 years is an average of less than three murders per year.  It should be zero a year.  Context: This week so far (8/13-8/16), there were 13 homicides in Chicago alone.  This JIB did not contain data about WSE attacks that were not either lethal or potentially lethal.

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. After 39 months of deployment time to Iraq and Afghanistan, he's now the conflict and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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