October 17, 2021

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FBI warned of potential extremist violence at Jan. 17 rally – POLITICO

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The information was taken from an FBI situation report titled: “Potential for Violence and Planned Actions for Counteracting Law Enforcement Security Measures at 17 January 2021 First Amendment Protected Events by Several Followers of a Militant Anti-Government Movement.”

In a statement, the FBI said it 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 who are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity.”

It’s not clear if the FBI’s information is still current, or whether any such rally will materialize. POLITICO previously reported that the Boogaloo Bois, an anti-government militia, has told its members that a planned Jan. 17 rally in D.C. has been canceled. But the group also advised anyone still planning to attend to obey local firearms regulations: “If you can carry legally, you can carry.”

Citing a separate Jan. 11 FBI report, the bulletin also warned that enclosed trailers have been seen at mass gatherings, a tactic that could be used to hold extra weapons and supplies.

The bulletin detailed other observations by federal and state law enforcement across the country indicating a potential for violence from armed far-right groups protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election. It cites news reports about suspicious activity related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, as well as internal communications about future potential attacks between state and federal law enforcement, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Crisis Coordination Center and the National Counterterrorism Center.

Law enforcement officials have expressed surprise at the level of organization and apparent training shown by the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, while Democratic lawmakers have speculated that the rioters may have had help from within the Capitol.

National security leaders across the country, meanwhile, ordered an unprecedented show of force this week ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Thousands of men and women from the National Guard and various law enforcement agencies have fanned out in Washington, D.C. and state capitals in anticipation of potential violence.

The FBI said Thursday that it had already made more than 100 arrests in connection to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and that law enforcement was monitoring “an extensive amount of concerning online chatter” ahead of inauguration.

The bureau also warned in an internal bulletin last week of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to the inauguration. Investigators believe some of the people belong to extremist groups.

In D.C., the number of Guardsmen will swell to 21,000 by Inauguration Day, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Vice President Mike Pence during an inauguration security briefing on Thursday. Guardsmen tasked with security at the Capitol are carrying lethal weapons and have been briefed on specific IED threats.

The Secret Service, the agency leading Inauguration security efforts, announced plans Thursday to establish a “green zone” in downtown Washington this weekend, shutting down traffic and Metro stations. Most of the streets around the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol will be closed from Saturday morning until the day after the Inauguration.

Additionally, Customs and Border Protection announced that it planned to deploy aircraft to the capital to conduct surveillance.

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