In testimony before Congress, the director of the FBI Christopher Wray warned of the rising danger of domestic extremist violence that he says is metastasizing across the country. For the longest time dating back to the J. Edgar Hoover era, the FBI focused much of its efforts on infiltrating antiwar groups and others that were largely peaceful and engaged in promoting civil rights and on behalf of minorities and women, and tended to ignore the threat posed by white nationalists and violent militias. It has taken the Trump era of supporting and inciting those groups for them to wake up to the reality of where the real danger of violence lies.
The insurrection on January 6th was just one manifestation of this trend. Ken Klippenstein reports on other actions that some groups extremist groups are up to.
AS THE BIDEN administration turns its attention to an infrastructure system beset with problems, a strange new issue has emerged: conspiracy theorists. That’s according to a detailed intelligence report, produced by the New York Police Department and obtained by The Intercept, which finds that cellphone towers and other critical infrastructure have become an attractive target for conspiracy theorists, especially in the weeks and months following the presidential election.
Conspiracy theorists, joined by far-right white supremacist groups, “increasingly target critical infrastructure to incite fear, disrupt essential services, and cause economic damage with the United States and abroad,” the report states. Blaming “the current contentious domestic political environment,” the document, issued on January 20 by the NYPD Intelligence Bureau and marked as “law enforcement sensitive,” describes a rash of attacks, some of which involved strikingly sophisticated planning.
So why attack infrastructure and cell phone towers in particular?
Many far-right groups adhere to the “accelerationist” principle, which maintains that hastening the collapse of society will bring about political change. Targeting critical infrastructure, which impedes the state’s ability to function, is a common insurgency tactic used by militant groups worldwide.
5G conspiracy theorists believe that the new technology gave rise to the coronavirus pandemic, with many convinced that the electromagnetic waves put out by 5G towers harm the human immune system. As a result, there were reportedly over 30 attacks on cell towers in London in April 2020 alone. In May of last year, the Department of Homeland Security issued its own intelligence report warning of “calls for violence against telecommunications workers” due to conspiracy theories tying the spread of Covid-19 to 5G technology, according to ABC News.
So you know who may be to blame if you lose your cell phone service.
Destabilizing a society by crippling the infrastructure in the hope that it will lead to a widespread uprising is an idea that has been around for a long time. But for success, such a strategy requires other elements to be in place, such as widespread dissatisfaction with the existing system, especially among the security forces, that will lead many to defect. I just don’t see that condition existing right now in the US.
What it may lead to is having Congress give the security forces even more surveillance powers than the vast array they already possess.