WASHINGTON — An FBI office in Virginia issued a warning to other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Capitol Police, the day before last week’s siege of the Capitol by Trump supporters that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and engage in “war.”
What You Need To Know
- The FBI's office in Norfolk, Virginia, issued a warning the day before last week’s siege that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and engage in “war," The Washington Post reported
- The written warning cited an online thread that said: “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their [Black Lives Matters] and [antifa] slave soldiers being spilled"
- The warning appears to contradict a statement made by an FBI official who told reporters Friday that “there was no indication” of anything planned for the day of Trump’s rally “other than First Amendment-protected activity.”
- Capitol Police and federal agencies have come under fire for the security failures that allowed rioters to breach the Capitol
The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that it obtained a situational information report written by the FBI’s office in Norfolk that was approved for dissemination Jan. 5. FBI officials said they had “received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.”
At a press conference Tuesday, the FBI confirmed the Washington Post's report, noting that the warning was issued through the Joint Terrorism Task Force; the U.S. Capitol Police has members on the task force.
The document cited an online thread that said: “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their [Black Lives Matters] and [antifa] slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”
The report also quoted an online comment that said “if Antifa or BLM get violent, leave them dead in the street.” Another said they needed “people on standby to provide supplies, including water and medical, to the front lines.”
The document added that individuals shared a map of complex tunnels and locations for groups to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina before heading to Washington.
The warning appears to contradict a statement made by Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, who told reporters Friday that “there was no indication” of anything planned for the day of Trump’s rally “other than First Amendment-protected activity.”
The Norfolk FBI office shared the report with others in the bureau, the Post reported. It’s not clear how many law enforcement agencies were told.
The document was not intended to be shared outside law enforcement circles, and it noted that its contents were not “finally evaluated intelligence.”
The author acknowledged that individuals and groups named in the report have been known to participate in lawful, First Amendment protests but cautioned that “based on known intelligence and/or specific historical observations, it is possible the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individual or others in retaliation or with the goal of stopping the protected activity from occurring in the first instance.”
In a statement to the Post, the FBI said it does not comment on specific “intelligence products” but said its field offices “routinely share information with their local law enforcement partners to assist in protecting the communities they serve.” The agency did not say who saw the document before the assault on the Capitol or if any actions were taken in response.
Capitol Police and federal agencies have come under fire for the security failures that allowed rioters to breach the Capitol.
A pro-Trump mob stormed the building Wednesday as Congress met to vote on certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the Electoral College. The riot resulted in five deaths, at least 60 hospitalizations and property damage. Members of Congress were forced to halt their proceedings as they were rushed to a secure location.
The unrest occurred just after President Donald Trump addressed his supporters, repeating false claims about election fraud, urging them to march to the Capitol and telling them, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”