CNN has learned that federal law enforcement agencies, in a series of bulletins and appeals with local partners this week, have issued an urgent plea for help in securing the nation’s capital to the approaching the inauguration, and painted a dire picture of the potential threats leading up to January 20.
Officials warn that last Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump will likely motivate further attacks by extremists throughout 2021, according to an intelligence bulletin dated Wednesday obtained by CNN.
Warning that those who attacked the Capitol widely viewed their efforts as a success, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the attack “will most likely serve as a major driver of violence “for a diverse set. national extremists, according to the bulletin.
“The violent violation of the United States Capitol is most likely part of a continuing trend in which (extremists) exploit legal demonstrations, rallies and demonstrations and other gatherings to carry out acts of violence and ideologically motivated criminal activity.” , warned the intelligence bulletin. .
The range of future targets of potential attacks was varied, with intelligence officials warning in the bulletin that extremists could focus on government officials and institutions, as well as racial and religious minorities, journalists and members of the public. of the LGBTQ + community.
The bulletin also stated that the January 6 attack may have served as a place for extremists of different ideological motives to foster relations.
In addition to the perceived success of the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, intelligence officials have warned that the law enforcement response could also motivate extremists to respond with violence, including during Biden’s upcoming inauguration. .
“Since (the attack on the Capitol), the violent rhetoric online regarding (the inauguration) has increased, with some calling for ‘unspecified’ justice for a rioter shot dead by police inside the Capitol, the report said. newsletter.
Other motivations for possible future attacks included the anti-government views of extremists, as well as grievances associated with the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
“The increasing prevalence and influence of conspiracy theories based on the belief in the existence of global actors or the” deep state “who work to manipulate various social, political and / or economic conditions in the United States are most likely the driving force behind some (extremist) violence, ”the report says.
The conspiracy-laden language observed by US intelligence officials has often mirrored Trump’s baseless claims. Throughout his presidency, Trump has claimed without evidence that a nefarious group of ‘deep state’ actors were secretly working to undermine his presidency, and he has continuously spread disinformation about the integrity of the 2020 election. .
The federal government works with police across the country
As law enforcement prepares to respond to upcoming protests ahead and during the inauguration, FBI Director Chris Wray and senior official serving as Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli held a call on Wednesday. with law enforcement officials across the country to provide a briefing on the nation-wide threat image linked to the planned protests, according to a person briefed on the call.
The source said the FBI had informed its law enforcement partners of intelligence reports indicating that the protesters were planning to conduct “peaceful armed protests” in Washington, DC and in state capitals of the United States on the 17th. January to protest against the results of the 2020 elections.
An FBI spokesperson confirmed the call, but did not provide further details.
The FBI said federal law enforcement is in the process of identifying suspected extremists who may pose a threat during planned armed protests.
During the call, FBI officials said they remain concerned about the prospect of extremists appearing at scheduled gatherings and carrying out acts of violence, and that domestic violent extremists continue to pose the greatest threat. important for Biden’s inauguration, according to another source close to the call.
“The gossip is irrelevant right now,” an official told CNN on Tuesday of extremists talking online about future actions.
Federal officials stressed during the call with law enforcement officials from state, local, tribal and college campuses that the FBI will not tolerate extremists using the First Amendment as a guide to incite violence, adding that they expected the threats to continue after Biden’s inauguration, the source said. .
In addition to potential threats to government buildings, officials spoke of an increase in the number of threats against private companies and their executives in recent days.
According to the source, federal officials said during the call that Russian actors amplified the false narrative that Antifa operatives infiltrated Trump supporters during the riot on the U.S. Capitol, and that the Chinese were backing down. seized reports showing chaos in the United States.
Secret Service report shows government monitoring threats
Another government report sheds light on how law enforcement officials are monitoring the threat of potential violence in the coming days.
According to an internal U.S. Secret Service report dated Jan. 11 obtained by CNN, analysts on the Secret Service team tasked with monitoring websites and social media for planned protests note that protesters unhappy with the election results of 2020 are using online platforms to host events in the Washington Area and across the country.
In an online forum observed by investigators, the report said that a group calling themselves the “American Patriots Nationwide” was staging a violent protest in Washington from January 16. On its website, the group said it plans to use its members to circle the Capitol. , The White House and the Supreme Court, and allow entry only to persons designated by Trump.
The Secret Service report said the US group Patriots Nationwide also planned to detain Democratic politicians who “played a role in planning, executing or supporting the attempted US coup d’etat. America from 2016 to 2020 “.
The secret service bulletin did not offer an assessment of the realistic nature of the planned gatherings or of the confidence of investigators in the ability of the organizers to achieve their stated objectives.
According to the report, groups associated with the Boogaloo movement were planning to host an armed march from the Washington Monument to the White House and were encouraging its members to bring weapons.
Other separate events mentioned in the Secret Service report also encouraged protest participants to come armed, although the organizers did not explicitly encourage violence.
The District of Columbia has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and the open carrying of guns is prohibited.
For the day of the inauguration, the Secret Service report said analysts identified more than 35 planned gatherings online around Washington.
An event dubbed the Million Militia March encouraged participants to bring weapons. “The group claims that it will not attack, but will defend itself,” notes the secret service report.
As part of its protection mission, the Secret Service routinely examines so-called “open source intelligence” to review gatherings and events planned near official events. The Secret Service report obtained by CNN indicated that recent efforts by social media companies to suspend users engaged in election-related disinformation have, in fact, hampered analysts’ ability to identify certain details of planned inauguration protests. .
Not all of the planned protests listed in the Secret Service report were pro-Trump.
According to analysts, one group is planning a rally called “Smoke Trump’s Sorrow,” where attendees will gather to smoke marijuana and celebrate the end of Trump’s presidency.
Another planned DC event dubbed the “U-Haul Trump Out Lesbian Parade” is being staged to help get Trump out of the White House, although the Secret Service has not indicated what logistics the group plans to employ to achieve its stated goal.