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Capitol rioter marches in front of the US Supreme Court on January 6, 2021.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More Americans are worried about threats from domestic extremist groups than foreign ones, according to a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago.

The poll, which was released Thursday morning, found that 65 percent of respondents said they are extremely worried about threats from domestic extremist groups. Seventy-five percent of Democratic respondents said they were very worried about the domestic extremism threat, while 57 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents also said they were very worried about threats posed by those groups. But just 50 percent of overall respondents said they were worried about threats from extremist groups outside of the United States: 49 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of independents.

There was a steep increase in violence from far-right extremist groups during the Trump administration. The number of incidents peaked in 2020 to the highest levels shown since the data was first collected in 1994, according to an analysis of data from the Washington Post. The Post found that the rise in far-right extremism was mostly driven by white supremacists, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-government extremist groups.

Nearly 600 individuals have been charged for their involvement with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capital led by far-right extremists and supporters of Donald Trump. And experts warn that actions taken by the FBI and law enforcement to hold individuals accountable are not the end of far-right extremist violence. They say it could even get worse, especially with a Democrat in the White House.

Daryl Johnson, the former lead analyst for domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security, told the American Independent Foundation, "It's under Democratic administrations where these groups proliferate. So, for at least the next four years... we're still gonna see a period of heightened activity."

In early August, a leaked Department of Homeland Security document warned of a "modest but increasing threat of violence" from people and groups who believe 2020 election conspiracy theories.

And in recent weeks, popular extremist and white supremacist channels on encrypted social media apps including Telegram have been exploiting 2020 election conspiracy theories, anti-government sentiment over coronavirus vaccine and mask mandates, 2020 census data, and most recently, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in order to recruit new people into their ranks.

On Saturday, shortly after the capital city of Kabul fell to Taliban control, far-right extremist channels were praising the Taliban and drawing comparisons to the conservative agenda in America.

"The Taliban is going to ban abortion, vaccines, and gay marriage... maybe we were fighting on the wrong side for 20 years," Nick Fuentes, an anti-Semitic and ultra-right vlogger posted to Gab.

Messages also showed people praising the Taliban — in particular, how they were able to take over Afghanistan so quickly. According to Buzzfeed News, one influential far-right vlogger with ties to a violent neo-Nazi group wrote, "the Taliban is epic. The US had to invade in the early 2000's and stay over 20 years, spending $1 trillion dollars, and dozens of American lives to hold them back. As soon as we left, the Taliban takes over the whole country in like 12 hours. LMAO."

Sara Kamali, an extremism researcher and scholar, told Buzzfeed News that the political backlash over the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan "has been leveraged by white nationalists to support their claim of the illegitimacy and ineptitude of the Biden administration as well as calls to reinstate Donald Trump as president." She worries that this rhetoric could be used as a recruitment tool for extremist groups.

Just Thursday afternoon, law enforcement arrested a man in Washington, D.C., who barricaded himself in a truck parked outside of the Library of Congress, claiming he had a bomb. The man, who was identified by police as Floyd Ray Roseberry, posted videos of himself to Facebook railing against President Joe Biden and Democrats while threatening to blow himself up to start a revolution.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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