Feds Say Mystery ‘Threat Actors’ May ‘Promote or Commit Violence’ on Capitol Riot Anniversary
15:48 GMT 01.01.2022 (Updated: 17:07 GMT 01.01.2022)
Angry Trump supporters burst into the seat of US legislative power on 6 January 2021 in an attempt to disrupt a Congressional proceeding to rubber stamp Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Hundreds of protesters have since been prosecuted over the unrest, with the Biden administration labelling them “domestic terrorists".
Federal authorities issued an ambiguous warning to state and local officials earlier this week warning them to be on the look-out for “threat actors” who may commit violence ahead of/or on the anniversary of the 6 January 2021 riot, CNN reports
, citing an intelligence assessment disseminated by the Feds.
“We assess that threat actors will try to exploit the upcoming anniversary of the 6 January 2021 breach of the US Capitol to promote or possibly commit violence,” the assessment, written jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FBI, US Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies, states.
The nebulous warning does not provide any information about specific possible threats, apart from the danger of ‘lone offenders'.
The assessment claims China, Russia and Iran have sought to ‘amplify’ media content regarding the Capitol breach to spread “conspiracy theories” about election fraud in the 2020 election, singling out efforts by ‘some Russian news media outlets’, without elaborating.
“What’s not surprising is that domestic extremists are still fixated on the 6 January events. However, what should give us pause is how nation-state adversaries will use these types of events to create anxiety and fear among the American public. Misinformation continues to be a ‘go-to’ tactic to rile society,” former DHS deputy chief Brian Harrell told the news agency.
DHS security warnings have long been the stuff of legend, with the widespread use of its post-9/11 colour-coded terror alert system being the butt of endless jokes on late-night comedy shows over their vagueness and ineffectiveness.
Government warnings of alleged Russian, Chinese and Iranian threats against US institutions have also become a somewhat tired meme
amid claims of meddling in everything from elections to hacks against vaccine research and even allegations of Kremlin gremlins in the US energy grid
. The accused nations have broadly dismissed Washington’s claims, and US officials have yet to provide any meaningful proof to confirm allegations of foreign malign behaviour.
Not So Quiet Riot
Thursday will mark the first anniversary of the 6 January 2021 Capitol riot, which saw thousands of angry protesters - convinced that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump - make their way to the Capitol, past the lightly guarded security perimeter and inside the building to disrupt lawmakers’ formal certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
President Biden has branded the riot the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War” and called the rioters “domestic terrorists".
More than 720 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection to date, facing penalties ranging from several months to several years in jail.
31 December 2021, 10:01 GMT
The US Senate is expected to be in session on the anniversary of the 6 January riot. The House of Representatives will not convene, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised
a day of “reflection, remembrance and recommitment” to be held “in a spirit of unity, patriotism and prayerfulness”, including a talk by approved presidential historians to “establish and preserve the narrative of 6 January”. Some senators have expressed concerns
over security amid recent media investigations concluding that some of the rioters in the original Capitol violence planned to take lawmakers hostage or execute them
Accusing Trump of fomenting the 6 January violence, Democrats have sought to use the events to bar him permanently from public office. Last summer, House Democrats set up a select committee to investigate the riot, issuing subpoenas for testimony and documents from Trump officials, and threatening
to refer criminal obstruction charges against the former president and his officials to the Justice Department.
Trump has announced plans to host a news conference from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on the anniversary of the violence. He has dismissed claims that he instigated the events as an element in Democrats’ alleged “witch hunt” against him, and claimed that the select committee is a sideshow meant to distract from the Biden administration’s “massive failures” in office.
27 December 2021, 14:45 GMT