College Park, Maryland – In a text message, a radicalized Trumpist raised the possibility of getting a boat to transport “heavy weapons” down the Potomac River, which would be expected by coreligionists who participated in the January 6 takeover of Congress, according to legal documents .
They were not words to the wind, say investigators, who say they have found receipts for the purchase of $ 750 in ammunition for a weapon that looked like a cell phone in the home of Thomas Caldwell, accused of being part, along with other members of the organization of far-right Oath Keepers, from one of the most sinister plots in history against the Capitol.
Right-wing extremists, with the go-ahead of Donald Trump, staged a bloody takeover of Congress last month and revived the debate about how to combat domestic extremism.RELATED
His speeches about a civil war, traitors and a revolution are a carbon copy of what right-wing personalities said on social media and right-wing portals while Trump promoted his false claim that there was fraud in the elections.
In nearly half of the 200 trials associated with the attack, authorities have said the insurgents appeared to have been encouraged by conspiracy theories or extremist ideologies, according to a review by The Associated Press of court documents.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) linked at least 40 defendants with extremist groups or movements, including at least 16 members or close associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys organization and at least five linked to Oath Keepers. FBI agents also linked at least 10 defendants to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that has been embraced by broad sections of the Republican Party.
In at least 59 other cases, the authorities linked the defendants with violent or extremist speech, conspiracy theories and other manifestations of the extreme right on social networks and other forums before, during and after the takeover of Congress, according to the AP review.
The AP found that in many of these cases the defendants repeated the falsehoods disseminated by Trump over months to the effect that the elections were fixed. Some made death threats against Democratic leaders on social media or in messages. Others made it clear that they believed many of the conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. And dozens of rebels repeated phrases used by supporters of QAnon, which promotes the idea that Trump is a secret warrior fighting a band of Satan-worshiping bureaucrats and celebrities who traffic minors.
On Saturday, the Senate acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial, but some sectors are calling for Trump and many of his supporters to be investigated and prosecuted for violating the laws.
The government is studying the possibility of charging some of the rebels with sedition.
President Joe Biden has called on law enforcement and intelligence services to investigate domestic terrorism. Incendiary speeches, however, are often protected by freedom of expression.
And some civil rights organizations object to the expansion of police powers, arguing that those powers are generally used to the detriment of African Americans and Hispanics.
Conspiracy theories, meanwhile, continue to proliferate. Conservative app Parler doubled its followers, adding 8.7 million users, after Facebook and Twitter shut down accounts spreading disinformation about the elections.
Calls by the conservative platform for its users to rebel or launch a war over election results rose, according to an AP analysis of a Parler database with 183 million comments and profiles of 13 million users.
The file was provided to the AP by New York University researcher Max Aliapoulios.
Posts in Parles containing the word “revolution” more than quintupled, as did post-election traffic overall, according to the study.
About 84% of the posts mentioning the hashtag “# 1776” were published on or after Election Day, according to the AP analysis. Allusions to a “betrayal” and to QAnon’s slogan “trust the plan” were multiplied by ten.
Trump supporters who invaded Congress used expressions of the American revolution to portray themselves as patriots and not extremists.
“Everyone here is a traitor,” Aakansas resident defendant Peter Stager said, referring to Congress, in a video that was circulated on Twitter. “Death is the only remedy for what is in that building.” A lawyer for Stager did not respond to requests for comment.
Comments in Parler from a Georgia lawyer grew increasingly paranoid as the balance tipped in favor of Biden on the vote count. William Calhoun of Americus, Georgia, harangued the Capitol storming the day before the insurrection, spoke of an imminent “civil war” and threatened a “slaughter” of Democrats.
Calhoun returned home after the takeover of Congress and resumed his work as a lawyer. Federal agents said he had at least two rifles, five revolvers and a hundred rounds of projectiles in his possession when he was arrested. A judge ordered that he remain in custody. His attorney had no comment.
Investigators claim that the Oath Keepers prepared as if they were going to war in the weeks leading up to January 6. One recommended to other extremists that they be “combat ready” and spoke of conducting “2 days of war rehearsals” in preparation for a “combat … urban warfare, riot control and rescue operations,” according to court documents. .
A lawyer for Caldwell says prosecutors have no evidence to bind his client, who denies being a member of the Oath Keepers and having been in the takeover of Congress.
“They take everything out of context!” Caldwell complained at a hearing.