ISD’s Head of Threat Analysis & Prevention, Katherine Keneally, discussed with The Hill the recent surge in ‘swatting’ incidents aimed at prominent political figures and institutions in the US. This uptick, coinciding with former President Donald Trump’s legal matters, occurs amidst increasing threats against public officials and as we enter a polarized election year. However, Katherine notes that the connection between all of this remains “unclear.”
“It’s really difficult to determine whether this is reflective of the trends of public officials being threatened or whether it’s people who are using the public officials to just essentially sow chaos.”
While those behind the swatting are sometimes aligned with extremist ideologies or groups, they are also sometimes just “teens who think it’s funny,” she added.
In many cases, it is difficult to prosecute swatting since there is no single federal law that specifically criminalizes it. “That’s probably one of the reasons why this has been going on for the last few weeks and no one’s been arrested,” Katherine said. “It’s because technology has enabled actors to do it in a way that makes it difficult for law enforcement to determine who was actually issuing the swatting.”