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Report: Texas Risk Of Domestic Violent Extremism Is Higher Than Average

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in Washington
Law enforcement officers push back against supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump attempting to enter U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Texas is at a higher risk of domestic violent extremism compared to the rest of the country, according to a new analysis of data collected from Google searches since last September.

Moonshot CVE, which monitors online extremism, found Texas has 80% more searches per capita than the U.S. average for targeted violence, including bomb-making instructions.

The study grouped indicators using a six-level matrix ranging from mere curiosity to extremism. Eleven percent of searches fell into risk-level six, indicative of a desire to cause harm or join groups that would cause harm. Fifty-one percent of searches fell into the second-highest category, risk-level five.

Sam Lichtenstein, a global security analyst with the research group Stratfor, said it's particularly worrisome that some of the top search terms involve joining the far-right antigovernment militia movement the Three Percenters, as well as QAnon.

“It's people who have not only potentially investigated some of these more extreme ideas, potentially conspiracy theories, potentially other ideas, but then actually are looking for things they can do in the real world, not just online, to actively act on them," Lichtenstein said.

The report found that search activity in Texas spiked in November around the time of the presidential election, then again in January around the time of the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Texas has among the highest number of residents arrested for participation in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, an analysis from Houston Public Media has found.

“It's unsurprising that in the lead up and the immediate aftermath of both the election and the Capitol riot, when you had complete national and media focus on these events, that you have people at home that are searching for potentially concerning behavior," Lichtenstein said.

The report comes just a few days after a similar report from the Anti-Defamation League, which showed that Texas led all 50 states in instances of white supremacist propaganda in 2020. The report found 574 instances of white supremacist propaganda in Texas last year, an increase of 121% over 2019, when Texas also led the nation in white supremacist propaganda.

The report found that Texas was also the leading source of white supremacist propaganda nationwide, courtesy of a Dallas-based group known as the Patriot Front. Out of more than 5,000 incidents of propaganda nationwide in 2020, the Patriot Front was responsible for more than 4,100 of those incidents, according to Mark Toubin, ADL Southwest regional director.

"The significant increase in Texas has dwarfed anything we've ever seen," Toubin said.

This story was produced by Houston Public Media.

Andrew Schneider