Jan 8, 2024

Jihadists or Republicans: Who is Biden’s Top Terrorist Threat?

The shadow of the first war on terror threatens to divert attention from the new one.
Jihadists or Republicans: Who is Biden’s Top Terrorist Threat?

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Written by Hudson Crozier

What’s happening: President Joe Biden’s weekend speech on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot continued his theme of portraying former President Donald Trump’s movement as dangerous for “democracy.” He compared the chaos caused by Trump supporters that day to war zones in Iraq, the latest White House reference likening Jan. 6 protestors to terrorists.

He means business: The Biden administration has made the alleged threat of right-wing extremism its top public safety priority — complete with more than a thousand prosecutions of political opponents. Officials have referred to domestic terrorism as “the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today” and compared the Capitol riot to 9/11.

  • Public opinion: Polling from 2021 showed the narrative’s persuasiveness as 56 percent of Americans said home-grown extremists are a bigger problem than foreign ones.

The problem: This year, there’s another event on Americans’ minds: Hamas’s October assault on Israel. Federal agencies say there is a high possibility the attack could inspire jihadist violence in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned that members of Hamas, Al Qaeda, and other Islamic groups may try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Homeland security crisis: There has been extensive media coverage of the record numbers of illegal migrants on the government’s terror watchlist. Yet the DHS — created after 9/11 — has failed to catch and identify around 1.7 million border crossers under President Biden.

Why it matters: Americans still think Jan. 6 was significant, but an overwhelming majority are concerned about Hamas-inspired terror on U.S. soil, recent polls show. These fears could make it harder for Biden to justify the government’s new focus on right-wing domestic terror.

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