Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Security
With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American
people, our homeland, and our values
Homeland Threat Assessment
October 2020

Secretary Chad Wolf, State of the Homeland, September 9, 2020
2 U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Cyber 8
Foreign Influence Activity 10
Economic Security 14
Terrorism 17
Transnational Criminal Organization 21
Illegal Immigration 23
Natural Disasters 25
Structure of the HTA

Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Security 3
“DHS has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many
threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than
240,000 employees in positions that range from aviation and
border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity
analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are
wide-ranging, and our goal is clear — keeping America safe.”
Secretary Chad Wolf, State of the Homeland, September 9, 2020
In my role as Acting Secretary, I receive
intelligence, operational, law enforcement,
and other information on a daily basis.
This Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA),
the first of its kind for the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security (DHS), draws upon
all sources of information and expertise
available to the Department, including
from intelligence, law enforcement, and
our operational Components. The result is
a “Whole-of-DHS” report on the threats to
the Homeland. This HTA is as close as the
American people will get to seeing and
understanding the information that I see
as Secretary and that our employees see in
their national security missions. As you read
through the HTA you should have faith in
knowing that these threats were identified
using the best intelligence, operational
information, and employee knowledge
available to the Department.
Identifying Threats using a Whole-of-DHS
The men and women serving in our
operational Components are the experts
in their national security and homeland
security missions, making their insights
critical in threat identification and
prevention. Our operational Components
provided information about the threats
they see and combat in performance of
their mission. DHS is the first and last line
of defense against many threats facing our
country. Our ability to mitigate these threats is
predicated on our ability to understand them
and to inform the American people. I hope
all Americans take a moment to review this
HTA and visit DHS.gov to learn how they can
protect themselves from these threats.
Today’s Threat Environment
Combatting terrorism will always be a priority
to the Department of Homeland Security.
Foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) still have
the intent to attack the Homeland within
and from beyond our borders. In the 19 years
since September 11th, 2001, the United States
Government (USG), DHS, and our foreign
partners have taken the fight directly to those
responsible for the attacks on that day, and to
other FTOs who seek to destroy our country
based on an ill-informed and twisted ideology.
We have enhanced our ability to identify
and prevent individuals affiliated with these
organizations from traveling or immigrating to
the United States. We have enhanced security
and processes at our airports, ports of entry,
and beyond our borders. We have built the
world’s greatest counterterrorism ecosystem
to keep Americans safe. More specifically, DHS
has partnered with other USG agencies and
foreign governments to raise the baseline for
screening and vetting in the United States. In
the last few years we have enhanced existing
vetting programs, created the National
Vetting Center (NVC), expanded biographic

4 Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Security
“ With honor and
integrity, we will
safeguard the
American people, our
Homeland, and our
and biometric information sharing
programs, and enacted national-level
policies requiring foreign governments
to share essential information for
vetting purposes or face potential travel
Trade and economic security is
Homeland Security. We are increasingly
concerned about the threat posed
by nation state actors in an emerging
era of great power competition. DHS
is specifically concerned with the
direct and indirect threat posed to the
Homeland by the People’s Republic of
China (PRC). The Chinese Communist
Party (CCP)-led PRC is challenging
America’s place as the world’s global
and economic leader. Threats emanating
from China include damaging the U.S.
economy through intellectual property
theft, production and distribution of
counterfeit goods, and unfair trade
practices. DHS has a mandate to mitigate
these threats and we will do so with a
clear-eyed view that China is a long-term
strategic competitor to the U.S.
Domestic violent extremism is a threat
to the Homeland. As Americans, we all
have the right to believe whatever we
want, but we don’t have a right to carry
out acts of violence to further those
beliefs. The Department works with
other Government, non-Government,
and private sector partners to prevent
individuals from making this transition
from protected speech to domestic
terrorism reflected by violence. As
Secretary, I am concerned about any
form of violent extremism. That is
why we design our programs to be
threat agnostic – ensuring that we can
combat a broad range of domestic
threats. However, I am particularly
concerned about white supremacist
violent extremists who have been
exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent,
targeted attacks in recent years. I am
proud of our work to prevent terrorizing
tactics by domestic terrorists and violent
extremists who seek to force ideological
change in the United States through
violence, death, and destruction.
Exploitation of Lawful and Protected
Speech and Protests. During the course
of developing the HTA we began to see
a new, alarming trend of exploitation
of lawful protests causing violence,
death, and destruction in American
communities. This anti-government,
anti-authority and anarchist violent
extremism was identified by DHS in
September 2019 when we published
our Strategic Framework for Countering
Terrorism and Targeted Violence. As
the date of publication of this HTA, we
have seen over 100 days of violence and
destruction in our cities. The co-opting
of lawful protests led to destruction of
government property and have turned
Indeed, DHS law enforcement officers
suffered over 300 separate injuries and
were assaulted with sledgehammers,
commercial grade fireworks, rocks, metal
pipes, improvised explosive devices,
and more. This violence, perpetrated
by anarchist extremists and detailed
in numerous public statements that
remain available on the DHS website,
significantly threatens the Homeland by
undermining officer and public safety—
as well as our values and way of life.
While the HTA touches on these issues,
we are still in the nascent stages of
understanding the threat this situation
poses to Americans, the Homeland, and
the American way of life.
Cyber security threats from nation-states
and non-state actors present
challenging threats to our Homeland
and critical infrastructure. DHS has a
critical mission to protect America’s
infrastructure, which includes our cyber-
infrastructure. We are concerned with
the intents, capabilities, and actions of
nation-states such as China, Russia, Iran,
and North Korea. Nation-state targeting
of our assets seeks to disrupt the
infrastructure that keeps the American
economy moving forward and poses
a threat to national security. On top
of the threats to critical infrastructure,
cybercriminals also target our networks
to steal information, hold organizations

Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Security 5
hostage, and harm American companies for their
own gain.
Nation-states will continue to try to undermine
American elections. Threats to our election have
been another rapidly evolving issue. Nation-states
like China, Russia, and Iran will try to use cyber
capabilities or foreign influence to compromise
or disrupt infrastructure related to the 2020 U.S.
Presidential election, aggravate social and racial
tensions, undermine trust in U.S. authorities,
and criticize our elected officials. Perhaps most
alarming is that our adversaries are seeking to
sway the preferences and perceptions of U.S.
voters using influence operations. Americans need
to understand this threat and arm themselves with
all information available to avoid falling prey to
these tactics.
While Russia has been a persistent threat by
attempting to harm our democratic and election
systems, it is clear China and Iran also pose threats
in this space. The IC’s Election Threat Update from
August 2020 and Microsoft’s announcement of
cyber-attacks from China, Russia, and Iran provide
further evidence of this threat and underscore the
importance in public and private partnerships to
secure democratic processes. DHS’s #Protect2020
website can help you understand the threat to
our elections and increase your preparedness and
Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs)
nue to profit at the expense of American
Mexican cartels and other TCOs will continue
to smuggle hard narcotics like fentanyl, heroin,
and methamphetamine into our communities,
contributing to an alarming level of overdoses
in the United States. No American community
is immune from the impact of these drugs.
Furthermore, cartels will continue to use
dangerous human smuggling methods to
facilitate migrants to our borders, putting these
migrants and our officers and agents at significant
risk given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The threat of illegal and mass migration to the
United States. Traditional migration push factors
like insecurity and economic conditions continue
to push individuals north to the United States.
While we are addressing illegal migration through
a network of initiatives, we are concerned that
during a pandemic this poses a more specific
threat to the migrants, the communities they
transit, to U.S. border communities, and to our
officers and agents who encounter migrants
when they enter the United States. To mitigation
this threat we instituted enhanced restrictions
at our borders, limited travel to only essential
travelers and implemented a Center for Disease
Control (CDC) order that protects Americans from
Natural occurrences continue to harm the life and
property of Americans. In 2020 alone we have
storm season that has
many Americans in our
c wildfire season that has
seen an unprecedented
taken the livelihoods of
Gulf states and a histori
caused devastation on the West Coast. Americans
in-between our coasts also face the threat of
natural disasters from a variety of causes. On
top of the threat to life and safety, these events
have devastating impacts on local and national
economies. The Department is at the forefront of
providing information to help Americans prepare,
and we stand ready to respond after these events
Likewise, a foreign-born virus reached our
shores in 2020. COVID-19 is the most recent and
deadly, in a list of infectious diseases that have
threatened the lives of Americans. We have seen
unprecedented impact to life, health, and public
safety from COVID-19 and taken action to prevent
our healthcare system from being overburdened
from COVID-19 patients. DHS was at the forefront
mitigating threat and we took decisive action to
restrict air and sea travel from disease hot-spots,
close our land borders to non-essential travel,
provide lifesaving PPE to Americans, prevent
fraudulent PPE from entering our supply chains,
and identify fraudsters who are trying to exploit
this situation for their own personal gain.
As you read the HTA you will become more acutely
aware of the threats facing the American people,
the Homeland, and the American way of life.
You will also gain a clearer picture of the broad
mission of the Department of Homeland Security.
It is my privilege and honor to serve as the Acting
Secretary of an organization whose employees
willingly and bravely put themselves in harm’s way
every day to protect us all. The men and women of
the Department live up to our motto: With honor
and integrity, we will safeguard the American
people, our Homeland, and our values.

6 Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Secruity
Structure of the Threat Assessment
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the first and last line
of defense against the many threats facing our country. Our ability to
mitigate these threats is predicated on our ability to understand them and
to inform the American people. The DHS Homeland Threat Assessment1

(HTA) identifies the primary threats facing the United States of America
at and inside our borders. This Assessment draws upon all sources of
information and expertise available to the Department, including from
intelligence, law enforcement, and our operational components.
The purpose of the HTA is to provide the
American people with an overview of the
information collected and analyzed by DHS
employees around the world and provided to the
Secretary of Homeland Security.
The HTA is primarily informed by intelligence
analysis prepared by the DHS Office of
Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and by the
Component intelligence offices, which identified
the leading security threats to the Homeland
based on a review of all-source intelligence
information and analysis. Given the array of
potential issues, I&A’s scoped its analysis to
focus on key threats covered by the intelligence
elements of the Department, which expert
analysts considered most likely and with the
potential to significantly affect U.S. security.
The HTA was also informed by the expertise
and insights of the Department’s Operational
Components, which assess and respond to
threats on a daily basis, as well as the informed
views of the DHS Office of Strategy, Policy, and
Plans (PLCY), which leads threat identification and
prevention activities.
This inaugural HTA presents a holistic look
from across the Department and provides
the American people with the most
complete, transparent, and candid look at
the threats facing our Homeland. It breaks
down the major threats to the Homeland in
the following sections:
1. The Cyber Threat to the Homeland
2. Foreign Influence Activity in the
3. Threats to U.S. Economic Security
4. The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland
5. Transnational Criminal Organization
Threats to National Security
6. Illegal Immigration to the United
7. Natural Disasters
As used in this document, “Threat Assessment” has the meaning given in the DHS Lexicon: a “product or process of evaluating information based on a set
of criteria for entities, actions, or occurrences, whether natural or manmade, that have or indicate the potential to harm life, information, operations and/
or property.”

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