US Security Agencies Boost Deployments & Surveillance Ahead of Capitol Riot Anniversary
The FBI reportedly does not have any information about specific threats that may occur on the anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol last year. Meanwhile, more than half of Americans believe that similar unrest may occur in the next couple of years, according to a poll.
Law enforcement along with federal authorities in Washington are increasing measures to ensure security ahead of the one-year anniversary of the 6 January Capitol siege, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mayorkas said at a briefing on Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has enforced a "heightened level of vigilance, because we are at a heightened level of threat."
"The threat of domestic violent extremists is a very great one," he said, adding at the same time that DHS has no specific data regarding serious security threats that might be expected ahead of the anniversary.
A source from federal law enforcement told CNN that DHS is preparing to increase the presence of security agents where necessary, implement 24-hour surveillance and enhance coordination with other agency centers across the country to exchange information.
DHS is coordinating with the FBI, the Metropolitan Police Department, US Park Police and Capitol Police to facilitate security not only in local areas but also in other states.
"Unlike before January 6, there is a well-coordinated and cohesive effort," the official said.
US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger noted that the department would be able to prevent another mob attack, as it is now closely monitoring several events, particularly one at the DC jail. Currently, the top priority issues for the police are “intelligence dissemination, operational planning and civil disturbance unit preparedness,” according to CNN.
Manger, who testified on Wednesday before the Senate Rules Committee on the measures that the Capitol Police have undertaken since the Capitol riot, mentioned a number of problems that require close attention. Among other things, the police chief said that his police department faces understaffing problems and needs to "expand and advance abilities to investigate threats."
On the other hand, the police department has addressed more than 90 recommendations of the more than 100 issued by the inspector general, according to Manger.
He also noted that USCP has identified around 9,600 threats in 2021 that mostly consist of phone calls, mail or messages on social media. Most of them do not necessarily constitute a crime, but the most concerning ones are those “that include a previous contact with someone making the threat.”
In a DHS intelligence assessment, released last week, lone offenders were dubbed the most likely threat on the anniversary of the Capitol siege.
“We are very focused on the lone actor or a loose affiliation of individuals, rather than necessarily an organized structure with a set and defined hierarchy, and that's what I think can make the threat so challenging to address. It is that lack, it is the loose affiliation of individuals and the dynamic nature that they present,” Mayorkas said on Tuesday.
Apart from the mentioned preparations, US President Joe Biden last month signed into law a bill presented by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt that enables the Capitol Police Chief with the authority to request emergency assistance from the National Guard.
5 January, 15:58 GMT
The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing officials from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), that the agency has no specific information indicating potential threats related to the anniversary. According to the report, the US administration came to the conclusion that the government’s response to the events of 6 January was affected by the lack of high-level information exchange and the inability to foresee how the situation would develop.
On January 6, a rally of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters turned into a protest as many participants broke into the US Capitol building to prevent the certification of the results of the Electoral College votes. The lawmakers were evacuated and five people died during the riot, including one police officer.