The FBI is investigating whether any foreign governments, organizations or individuals provided financial support to those who helped plan and execute the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol, a report said on Sunday.
As part of the investigation, the FBI is examining payments of $ 500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups on the far right before the riot, a current and a former FBI official. Told NBC News.
The payments were documented and posted online last week by a company that analyzes cryptocurrency transfers. Bitcoin payments can be traced because they are documented in a public ledger.
The current FBI official has reportedly said the bitcoin transfers appear to have been made by a French computer programmer who committed suicide on December 8 last year after triggering the transfers, according to French media.
Cryptocurrency payments have prompted the FBI to investigate whether any of the money has been used to fund illegal acts, which, if true, raises the possibility of money laundering and criminal charges. conspiracy, said the FBI official.
On December 8, Chainalysis reported that the donor had sent 28.15 BTC – valued at around $ 522,000 at the time of transfer – to 22 separate addresses, many of which belong to far-right activists.
Chainalysis’s blog post, first highlighted by Yahoo News, said far-right podcaster Nick Fuentes received the most money, 13.5 BTC – valued at around $ 250,000 .
Separately, a joint threat assessment released last week by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and various other federal and Washington area police departments has since noted the murderous riot of January 6, “Russian, Iranian and Chinese influential actors seized the opportunity to amplify the narratives in pursuit of their political interest during the presidential transition.”
Russian state and proxy media “have amplified themes related to the violent and chaotic nature of the Capitol Hill incident, the impeachment of President Donald Trump and the censorship of social media,” according to the unclassified report intelligence services.
“In at least one case, a Russian attorney claimed that ANTIFA members disguised themselves as supporters of President Trump and were responsible for the storming of the Capitol building.
The Chinese media, meanwhile, “have taken hold of history to denigrate American democratic governance, calling the United States largely in decline – and to justify the Chinese crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.”
The examination of possible foreign influence linked to the Capitol Riot, which involves the FBI’s counterintelligence division, comes after years of what current and former FBI officials say is growing evidence that Russia and other foreign adversaries have sought to secretly support “political extremists” on the far right and far left.
Law enforcement officials and security analysts claim that there has long been “a mutual affection between Western white supremacists and the Russian government,” as two academics put it in a February article on the JustSecurity website.
Some senators were concerned enough about the issue that they inserted a requirement in the 2021 Defense Bill that the Pentagon “report to Congress on the extent of Russian support for” racially motivated violent extremist groups and networks. and ethnic in Europe and the United States ”- and what can be done to counter it”.
Fuentes, who spoke at pro-Trump rallies last year in Michigan and Washington, DC, told news organization ProPublica he was at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Wednesday, January 6. , but that he hadn’t followed the crowd into the Capitol.
A group of Fuentes supporters, who call themselves the Army Groyper, were filmed crossing the Capitol with a large blue flag with the America First logo on it, ProPublica reported.
“We are reviewing and treating this as an international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation,” Michael Sherwin, the US lawyer in Washington, DC, said at a press briefing last week.
“We look at everything: money, travel records, disposition, movements, communication records.”