Wednesday, February 1, 2023

FBI runs to follow insurgents ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration

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One of the most alarming discoveries made by American law enforcement agencies on the day The U.S. Capitol has been stormed were two homemade bombs found outside the Washington headquarters of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Barely a week before America’s political elite gathered on Capitol Hill to Joe bidenAt the unveiling, federal investigators admitted they had no idea who planted the explosives – or why they hadn’t detonated.

The failure to identify the individuals behind some of the more martial acts in last week’s attack raised concerns that die-hard insurgents remain at large and could threaten Mr Biden’s swearing-in on January 20. or other events leading to the transition of power.

“We have seen calls for violence against the police and for the encouragement of armed struggle. . . and warnings to prepare, because that’s just a taste of what’s to come, ”said Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.

Federal prosecutors said on Wednesday that more than 170 cases had been opened against pro-Trump rioters for offenses ranging from trespassing to sedition and murder, with more than 70 already charged.

But they also admitted that they had not determined whether the attack was coordinated or provoked by what appeared to be more organized elements that participated in the rampage, or whether some participants planned to kidnap and kill individual members. of Congress.

the charges laid by federal authorities so far have not alleged a wider organizational effort, but Justice Department officials said their initial priority had been to identify and arrest those involved in the riot on as quickly as possible and that broader accusations could follow later.

So far, many of these charges have been made against what the FBI has called “ambitious” rather than “intentional” coup plotters, who may have spoken the language of violent overthrow without any plans. real implementation.

Despite the discovery of the homemade bombs and the highly organized nature of some of the rioters, many experts believe that much of the mob violence was opportunistic rather than carefully planned.

High level rioters who have been arrested so far – including “QAnon Shaman” Jake Angeli, pictured wearing horns on his head, and Richard Barnett, who put his feet in the air on President Nancy Pelosi’s desk in her personal office – have little history of involvement in organized extremist movements.

“The fact that they were there to take selfies and steal catwalks – it was more for the ‘gram’ in a sense,” said Marc-André Argentino, a PhD student at Concordia University who studies how extremist groups take advantage of technology, referring to Instagram. social network.

Still, some signs have prepared for more serious violence. Two men accused of illegally entering the Capitol were photographed in military gear and with plastic handcuffs, echoing the equipment worn by the militia which planned to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Kidnapped Last year.

Another man was arrested with a pistol loaded with a cartridge in the chamber, while a fourth brought 11 Molotov cocktails in his van, each filled with melted polystyrene foam and gasoline, “an explosive mixture that the effect of napalm, ”the DoJ said in a court filing.

Additionally, the FBI said it was able to intercept and detain those known to lead the most violent and belligerent groups, such as Enrique Tarrio, head of the extremist organization Proud Boys, who was arrested and banned of Washington two days before the riot, after being found in possession of two high-capacity gun magazines.

Many of President Donald Trump’s more extreme supporters did not attend last week’s rally, believing it had become impossible to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory.

Still, some of the most prominent members of the right-wing nativist movement who revolted on Capitol Hill are still at large, and experts believe some other activists who have stayed on the sidelines could be inspired to target the inauguration due to the success of the attack by disrupting Mr. Biden’s certification.

“They would love to disrupt the inauguration – they are violent revolutionaries who wish to kill their enemies,” warned Mike Rains, who runs Adventures in HellwQrld, a QAnon-focused podcast. “They would love the coup d’état to have gone better.

The planned deployment of troops to Washington could encourage extremists to choose other targets, said Megan Squire, a professor at the University of Elon in North Carolina.

One of those still unknown where is Tim Gionet, an alt-right member who uses the nickname Baked Alaska. Mr Gionet, who was arrested in Arizona last year after attacking a bouncer with a sledgehammer, broadcast the riot live as viewers donated to his stream and gave him instructions, including calls to violence.

Ms Mendelson said the more than 50 people the ADL had helped identify were on the ideological spectrum, with a dozen extremists affiliated with white supremacist and anti-government movements.

Nicholas Ochs, a Hawaiian Proud Boy executive, was arrested on Friday for illegal entry but said on Tuesday he was released on bail. A former congressional candidate, Mr. Ochs posted videos and tweets of the storm. “The people inside didn’t even destroy things,” he wrote on Telegram the day after the riot. “It was just a pretty happy atmosphere to be honest.”

But the scale of the riots means many have yet to be arrested. “There were thousands of people,” Ms. Mendelson said. “For the process to be precise and complete, it takes time.”

Marsh Notes

Following a historic 2020 election, stay on top of the biggest themes driving U.S. politics, business, and markets from Washington, New York and beyond with Rana Foroohar and Edward Luce. register here


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