Government officials say last week’s Capitol riot will likely encourage domestic extremists to carry out more violent attacks, according to a new intelligence bulletin.
Officials warn domestic extremists ‘very likely pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021’ in a Joint Intelligence Bulletin published Wednesday, produced by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center.
Federal authorities said in the bulletin the Capitol protest will ‘likely serve as a significant driver of violence for a diverse set of [domestic violent extremists]’.
They say the attacks are fueled by racial division, QAnon conspiracies and other fringe views.
Officials explain that extremists see violence ‘as a step toward achieving their initiatives’ and they ‘consider the death of a perceived like-minded individual as an act of martyrdom.’
The notice comes as the FBI is investigating whether the attack on the US Capitol was more than just a protest but a planned siege, citing evidence including weapons and tactics caught on surveillance video that suggest a level of planning.
A Joint Intelligence Bulletin published Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center warns that last week’s Capitol riot will lead to more violent attacks
In the January 6 protest a Trump-inspired mob stormed the Capitol building to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election. They forced their way into the House floor, were seen in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and overall five people were left dead. The government intelligence document blamed the Capitol siege on ‘false narratives’ claiming the 2020 presidential election was ‘illegitimate’
In the violent protest Trump supporters clashed with police as lawmakers were forced to shelter inside the Capitol building
During the January 6 protest, a Trump-inspired mob stormed the Capitol building to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election. They forced their way onto the House floor, were seen in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and overall five people were left dead.
The report noted that some of the rioters displayed symbols associated with violent extremists like the Confederate flag, neo-Nazi and QAnon symbols, nooses and the phrase ‘Murder the media’ was found scratched onto a door in the Capitol.
The government intelligence document blamed the Capitol siege on ‘false narratives’ claiming the 2020 presidential election was ‘illegitimate, or fraudulent, and the subsequent belief its results should be contested or unrecognized.’
On Wednesday Trump was impeached for the second time during his presidency for ‘incitement of insurrection’ in the siege.
The Wednesday document says the riot was part of a trend of extremists using demonstrations to carry out ideologically motivated violence.
Authorities warn extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists could commit small, lone actor attacks.
It states the protest ‘likely will inspire others to engage in more sporadic, lone actor or small cell violence’ against ‘racial, ethnic or religious minorities and institutions, law enforcement, and government officials and buildings.’
The document entitled ‘Domestic Violent Extremists Emboldened in Aftermath of Capitol Breach, Elevated Domestic Terrorism Threat of Violence Likely Amid Political Transitions and Beyond’ explains the violence that unfolded on January 6 and how it’ll inspire further attacks
The document says political tension as well as COVID lockdowns may inspire new threats.
‘In 2021, threats and plotting of illegal activity, including destruction of property and violence targeting officials at all levels of the government, law enforcement, journalists, and infrastructure, as well as sporadic violence surrounding lawful protests, rallies, demonstrations, and other gatherings by [domestic violent extremists] will very likely increase due to renewed measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, socio-political conditions and perceived government overreach.’
The document also noted that journalists may be threatened by violent attacks.
‘Criminal activity by rioters targeting members of the media at the breach is also indicative of an increased and prolonged threat of targeted violence against members of the press due to perceived complicity in a system hostile to their beliefs.’
President Donald Trump pictured speaking to his supporters before they stormed the Capitol building on January 6. The government intelligence document blamed the Capitol siege on ‘false narratives’ claiming the 2020 presidential election was ‘illegitimate, or fraudulent, and the subsequent belief its results should be contested or unrecognized’
A mass of Trump supporters left his rally on Wednesday and headed straight for the Capitol
The report noted that some of the rioters displayed symbols associated with violent extremists like the Confederate flag, neo-Nazi and QAnon symbols, nooses and the phrase ‘Murder the media’ was found scratched onto a door in the Capitol. A view of a rioter carrying a Confederate flag above
A view of QAnon conspiracy theorists at the Stop the Steal rally on January 6 above
The document warned federal agencies and local governments to ‘remain vigilant’ in light of the ‘persistent threat’ posed by the domestic violent extremists.
The FBI said to Yahoo News that the agency is ‘supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve.’
‘Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners. The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.’
The FBI is investigating whether the January 6 riot was a planned attack to deliberately break into the Capitol building.
Evidence so far shows weapons and tactics on surveillance video suggesting a level of planning, a federal law enforcement official said as per CNN.
Some evidence shows participants of Trump’s rally earlier in the day leaving the event early, possibly to retrieve items used in the Capitol raid.
Investigators and prosecutors are combing through travel and communications records to see if they can build a case similar to a counterterrorism investigation.
The FBI is also investigating whether any of Trump’s supporters who attacked the Capitol conspired to hurt lawmakers or take hostages.
Dozens have already been arrested for their role in the riot, but now a probe is underway to see if there was a deeper plot to kidnap or harm members of Congress.
‘We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,’ said one law enforcement official.
At least two mob members, one of them a retired Air Force officer, were spotted on the Senate floor carrying zip-tie handcuffs, while another was caught with a pistol on the Capitol grounds.