WASHINGTON – In April 2009, a senior Homeland Security intelligence analyst named Daryl Johnson wrote an internal report warning that right-wing extremism is on the rise in the United States and could lead to violence.
The report leaked, and the backlash intensified. There was anger among Republican lawmakers. Veteran advocates criticized a class that expressed concern about the withdrawal of service members with subsequent stress. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized for parts of it and the unit was eventually dissolved.
Nearly 11 years later, a mob of right-wing extremists was attacked by the US Capitol in a dangerous riot, provoked by President Donald Trump, which exposed the horrors of the threat.
Johnson said in an interview, “This capital insurance is what we just did last week – some people were like OK. It’s the climax of the story. No it’s not. It’s the beginning of a new phase of violence and hostility. ” “This is not the last chapter of a movement that is dying.”
Johnson, who runs the security advisory company DT Analytics, published a 2019 book about American extremism called “Hatland”. He spoke to NBC News about the threat and said how it could be dismissed.
A transcript is as follows, lightly edited for length and clarity.
NBC News: Take me back to 2009. What did you see that inspired you to write this report?
Johnson: In January of 2007, the Capitol Police told us that Barack Obama, a Senator from Illinois, was going to announce his candidacy for the presidency. We all knew that this was the worst situation for white supremacists. He said it would be America’s lowest point when you had “Black” occupation of the White House – which was kind in his literature.
When he won the Democratic nomination, we started threatening white supremacist groups, leaving them behind. That, coupled with the bursting of the housing bubble in ’08, left many people underwater financially – they began to find a scapegoat for their problems.
NBC News: And you did not make this report public, but it came out.
Johnson: We broadcast it to the police, and then it leaked. We wrote the report, it went through 23 amendments, vetoed all levels, coordinated it with the FBI, abridged it a few days before Janet Napolitano circulated. When I got home that day, my branch chief, my immediate supervisor, talked about what a great briefing it was, and she was hearing very positive feedback. Then three days later, all hell broke loose.
NBC NEWS: Let’s move the current fast. According to former Trump-era DHS officer Elizabeth Newman, “In the last 10 years, 76 percent of terrorist attacks have been carried out by right-wing people in our country. “Do you feel valid with the warnings made at that time?
Johnson: When I wrote that assessment, I was just doing my job. I knew that what I wrote was accurate and true. It is unfortunate that my message got lost in the politicization of the whole thing. I have no satisfaction in knowing that I was right. I just want people to hear and do something about it. So I am more disappointed than anything.
NBC News: What was your reaction when you saw Insure on Capital last week?
Johnson: In the summer, in spring and autumn we had two other capitol buildings in Michigan and Idaho, which were overgrown and torn down by people of the same type. It was not beyond the scope of possibility that these people would do a similar thing to try to stop the election. I thought it was going to be in another state capitol building, but it ended up being the US Capitol. So it was not surprising. But it was shocking to see what was going on and how the mob was stirred up and turned into this violent mob.
NBC NEWS: One thing that struck me was that by reading your report some of the factors you described as triggers for extremism are linked to President Trump’s platform – fearing immigrants, warning that guns will be fired, a new world order Speaking of which has trampled American sovereignty. What role did he play in it?
Johnson: He has been a major contributor to spreading fear and spreading lies and disinformation and promoting conspiracy theories. So they certainly put a lot of fuel on this fire. This fire erupted as soon as she came into the office, and she took it to a whole new level. This capital insurance that we just did last week – some people were like, okay, this is the climax of the story. no it’s not. This is heralding a new phase of violence and hostility. This is not the last chapter of a movement that is dying. this.
NBC News: And that’s what I wanted to get next. When you say this is not the final chapter, what should we expect in the coming weeks, months and maybe years?
Johnson: The government is – if they are responsible – going to have developing programs and resources to start combating the problem. These people had more than 10 years to carry weapons and ammunition and were afraid and terrified. Therefore, we have become very cautious about how we can crack these groups. If there are gun laws passed, that’s just going to feed right into your statements, attract more recruits, radicalize people.
It needs to know more about de-radicalizing. Funding organizations that have people who have left the movement and can develop strategies on how to outreach and drive people out. There is a need to conduct mass marketing campaigns on what citizens should do. If you have found family members, neighbors, co-workers who are part of these movements, instead of profane and arguing and criticize and isolate them, we need to love them, pity them and bring them into the mainstream is required. Love is the only way to get rid of hate. Every person I have ever known that a white supremacist has left the movement through compassion or love. He did not leave it because someone convinced him that his belief system was wrong.
NBC News: Do you believe that the President’s defeat will potentially increase the fire more, or do you think his beaver paves the way to calm him down?
Johnson: It has the ability to do either. And it depends on Republican leaders what they decide to do. Because no matter how hard the Democrats try, these people will not listen. It is going to take the Republican leadership to listen to these people and really tone down.
Most of these people are radical in its various stages. He has not yet taken criminal action. They are the ones you need to talk to – don’t jump off the cliff edge and become a terrorist. Focus on the root causes of radix: conspiracy theories, lies, and disinformation that were imposed there. All this needs to be done through churches, faith-based communities, civil rights organizations, veteran organizations.
NBC News: To be clear, are you suggesting that the new administration is not pursuing any gun control measures?
Johnson: Absolutely. They should avoid it at all costs. Because all of this is what the extremists believe is played – that the Democrats will come after your guns. When you start threatening your guns, they become more defensive and even pre-emptive and more angry and agitated. So I stop that and focus more on community engagement and trying to get these people to renounce QAnon, renounce that the vote was rigged and there was massive voter fraud.
These people who invaded the Capitol last week thought they were making a great effort. They felt that they were saving the Constitution and protecting our nation, that they were true patriots against this evil group of people who want to take away our rights and put us in a socialist state. So this is a very big problem – the fact that we have political leaders, including the President, it is basically an idea that has been blamed and not taken away from.
NBC News: You said earlier in a final chapter that it is not. What would this final chapter look like if these people had their way?
Johnson: According to them, they want a civil war. So this will be the last chapter. Being a group of large-scale terrorist attacks and chaos in the streets and killing of political leaders. This is the kind of phase we are going on now.
NBC News: This is terrible.
Johnson: Yes. A final chapter for me will be the programs to be implemented, people start abandoning these things, we get a handle on these conspiracy theories and discredit them, there is a system where sites that promote this stuff – QAnon in particular, if we are responsible for the violent acts that people believe to happen, these people should be held financially accountable. Probably criminally accountable as well. You cannot just make these conspiracy theories and its benefits and then people act violently and you are not responsible for their behavior. So the accountability is a big one.