After the Insurrection: How Domestic Extremists Adapted and Evolved After the January 6 US Capitol Attack

Jan 04, 2022 | by
  • Description

This report by the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) provides an overview and analysis of the shifts observed in domestic extremist movements since the 2021 Capitol attack. As noted in the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, domestic extremist threats include groups and individuals "whose racial, ethnic, or religious hatred leads them toward violence" and those who incite "imminent violence in opposition to legislative, regulatory, or other actions taken by the government," including self-proclaimed militias, "sovereign citizen" movements, and others promoting fringe ideological grievances.

This research is informed by continued online monitoring and analysis of extremist individuals, groups, and movements, and how their online behavior influences offline activities. Daily monitoring efforts, primarily comprising open-source and investigative reporting, began in the latter half of 2020 and continued through the entirety of 2021, producing a comprehensive record of extremist movements online that informed this report, as well as other efforts to combat the threats that domestic extremist movements pose to democracy and public safety.

These findings portray a domestic extremist landscape that was battered by the blowback it faced after the Capitol riot, but not broken by it. In fact, the sentiments espoused by domestic extremist causes are as public and insidious as ever, making their way into mainstream conservative discourse. This underscores the importance of periodic accounting and strategizing of methods to confront threats. Just as extremist movements adapt and evolve, so should approaches to preventing the harms they produce.