FBI, DHS Warn Of Increased Threats To Law Enforcement, Government Officials After Mar-a-Lago Search


Monday, August 15th 2022, 2:12 pm

By: CBS News


Federal authorities are warning of an increase in threats to law enforcement officials following the FBI's search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. 

The threats, which are "occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards," were identified by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the days following the FBI's authorized seizure of 11 sets of classified documents from the former president's home, including four sets that were classified "top secret," according to the unsealed search warrant.

"The FBI and DHS would like to ensure that law enforcement, court, and government personnel are aware of the range of threats and criminal and violent incidents," the memo read. 

The internal intelligence memo was shared with state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement officials nationwide late Friday night. 

According to the bulletin, "the FBI and DHS have observed an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for 'civil war' and 'armed rebellion.'"

That includes threats that are "specific in identifying proposed targets, tactics, or weaponry," the bulletin noted. 

"Since 8 August 2022, the FBI and DHS have identified multiple articulated threats and calls for the targeted killing of judicial, law enforcement, and government officials associated with the Palm Beach search, including the federal judge who approved the Palm Beach search warrant," the bulletin continued. "The FBI and DHS have also observed the personal identifying information of possible targets of violence, such as home addresses and identification of family members, disseminated online as additional targets."

The assessment noted that three days after the search, "Ricky Shiffer, Jr., wearing a technical vest and armed with an AR-style rifle and a nail gun, attempted to forcibly enter the FBI's Cincinnati Field Office," and it described the standoff with FBI and law enforcement officers that ultimately resulted in Shiffer's death.

Hours before Shiffer's standoff, he had appeared to post on former President Donald Trump's social media platform Truth Social that he wanted to kill federal agents. 

The post, which has since been removed by the site's moderators, appeared shortly after the FBI searched the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence last Monday.

"When they come for you, kill them," the suspect wrote. "Be an American, not a steer."

The posts represent just a fraction of the violent extremist content flooding far-right message boards and social media platforms in the wake of the FBI's search of the Mar-a-Lago resort. Phrases including "civil war" and "lock and load" trended across Telegram channels, Gab, Reddit and TheDonald, a popular forum among Trump supporters.

"As a result of recent activities, we assess that potential targets of DVE violence moving forward could include law enforcement, judicial officials, individuals implicated in conspiracy theories and perceived ideological opponents who challenge their worldview," the joint bulletin continues. 

It warns that events could "escalate the threat environment" further, including "possible future law enforcement or legal actions against individuals associated with the Palm Beach search, statements by public officials which incite violence, high profile successful DVE attacks that inspire copycats, or the emergence of additional conspiracy theories."

The bulletin also states that the threats seen so far since the search point to the possibility that domestic violent extremists could see the 2022 midterm elections in November as "an additional flashpoint around which to escalate threats against perceived ideological opponents, including federal law enforcement personnel."

ABC News was the first to report on the intelligence bulletin. DHS has declined to comment. 

In a statement, an FBI spokesperson said the agency is "always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI." 

"We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous," the statement continued. "As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately."

Jeff Pegues and Jake Rosen contributed to this report. 

First published on August 14, 2022 / 12:56 PM

© 2022 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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