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The hunt for the January 6 DC pipe bomber continues. Could a Congressional hearing unearth new information?

Three years after the US Capitol riots, authorities have yet to name the suspect who planted two pipe bombs the night before. An upcoming Congressional hearing could reveal new information, Katie Hawkinson reports

Tuesday 12 March 2024 17:55 GMT
Donald Trump supporters scale the US Capitol scaffolding on 6 January 2021
Donald Trump supporters scale the US Capitol scaffolding on 6 January 2021 (Getty Images)

This week, a US House of Representatives committee will hold a hearing on a three-year unsolved mystery: The 6 January pipe bombs.

During the Capitol riots on 6 January 2021, authorities identified two pipe bombs in Washington DC: one outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) building, the other outside the Republican National Committee (RNC) building.

As of March 2024, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) still has not released a suspect’s name.

Now, the House Administration Committee’s oversight subcommittee will conduct the hearing, titled “Three Years Later: Assessing the Law Enforcement Response to Multiple Pipe Bombs on January 6, 2021,” on 12 March.

The Republican-led subcommittee will call several witnesses, including a former FBI Master Bomb Technician, the CEO of the United States Bomb Technician Association, and a former K-9 Detection Trainer for the Washington, DC transportation authority.

Here’s everything we know so far about the pipe bombs and the lawmakers investigating the response to the incident:

Two pipe bombs may have diverted resources from the Capitol on 6 January

Several months after the 6 January riots, the FBI released footage of a suspect placing one of the pipe bombs outside of the DNC on the evening of 5 January 2021. The FBI suspects the same individual placed the second bomb outside the RNC, located just minutes away.

The bombs were reportedly made with galvanised pipes, a kitchen timer and gunpowder.

Authorities first discovered the explosives just minutes before rioters stormed the Capitol, prompting concerns the bombs were planted as a distraction. The bomb near the RNC headquarters was first spotted by Karlin Younger of Wisconsin, who was walking by the site and noticed the explosive.

Donald Trump supporters scale the US Capitol scaffolding on 6 January 2021 (Getty Images)

Around the same time, a “suspicious package” — the pipe bomb — had been discovered at the DNC headquarters, prompting an evacuation.

Where does the investigation into the pipe bombs stand?

Now, more than three years later, the FBI has yet to release any information on a suspect. In 2023, authorities raised the reward for information regarding the bombs from $100,000 to $500,000 — in January, they released a statement that the award remains in effect.

“Although these bombs did not detonate, it is important to remember the suspect walked along residential and commercial areas in Capitol Hill just blocks from the U.S. Capitol with viable pipe bombs that could have seriously injured or killed innocent bystanders,” the FBI said in a statement earlier this year. “Moreover, the suspect may still pose a danger to the public or themselves.”

John Iannarelli, a retired FBI agent, previously told The Independent the footage indicates the suspect went to great lengths to conceal their identity.

“This person also, as evidenced by their planning, went to pretty good lengths to conceal themselves. I mean, it was cold at night, but yet you see other people out and their faces aren’t completely covered. They’re not wearing glasses, sunglasses at nighttime,” he told The Independent.

Last year, conspiracy theories circulated suggesting that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene — a staunch Trump-ally and MAGA-aligned Republican — could be the suspect.

Marjorie Taylor Greene pictured at the State of the Union 2024 (AP)

Ms Greene — who has spread her fair share of unfounded theories, including the baseless claim that a Jewish space laser caused a California wildfire — called the claims “pathetic.”

“Here is a perfect example of one of many absolutely stupid conspiracy theories about me,” Ms Greene said. “You have to be a completely delusional moron to believe this.”

“Laughable and pathetic,” she continued. “The FBI never followed up on the video footage of the pipe bomber, even though they have the license plate and car identified.”

Mr Iannarelli also said that the lack of an arrest does not indicate this case is a low priority for the FBI.

“Everything that could be done was being done, I’m sure. That includes obtaining surveillance video. It wasn’t uncommon that I would knock on doors looking for people who had cameras that we could pull footage from,” he previously told The Independent. “I’m certain all of that was done at the time.”

Who is leading the hearing on the 6 January pipe bombs?

Representative Barry Loudermilk, a Republican from Georgia, is the chair of the committee and will lead Tuesday’s hearing.

Mr Loudermilk is best known for giving a “not typical” tour of the US Capitol on 5 January 2021, which some lawmakers on the committee investigating the riots said raised “concerns” about the attendees’ “activity and intent.”

GOP congressmen gives Capitol tour on 5 Janaury 2021

These allegations arose after video footage captured the tour group taking photos of “areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints.” The Congressman, meanwhile, said the tour attendees were photographing children’s artwork. However, the 6 January committee presented evidence that one of the tour attendees marched to the Capitol and recorded a threatening video related to the riots; meanwhile, US Capitol Police reviewed the footage and wrote, “We do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious.”

The Georgia Representative later targeted the Democrat-led committee that investigated 6 January, calling for an investigation into the members soon after they released the 5 January tour footage.

Mr Loudermilk made it clear in a statement Tuesday that his goal is to scrutinize the findings of the investigation under Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the last Congress.

“The Subcommittee on Oversight isinvestigating the security failures of January 6th which House Democrats failed to investigate in the 117th Congress,” a statement from the House Administratino Subcomittee on Oversight read. “We are focused on identifying and reviewing the numeroussecurity failures on and leading up to, January 6, 2021, and reviewing the creation, operation, and claims made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.”

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