12 National Guard members with ties to militia groups or ‘extremist views’ removed from inauguration

Pentagon and FBI screening troops following deadly insurrection at US Capitol

Related video: Adam Schiff says ‘massive intelligence and security failure’ at US Capitol being investigated by the House

Leer en Español

At least 12 National Guard service members have been removed from president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, including two people who made “inappropriate” comments about the event.

The discovery follows Defense Department and FBI efforts to screen National Guard members as more than 20,000 troops support law enforcement in Washington DC ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, days after a far-right mob breached the US Capitol.

Two service members were identified for posting “inappropriate comments or texts" about the event, Army General Daniel Hokanson told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. At least 10 others were identified by the FBI “as having ties to fringe right-wing groups or had posted extremist views”, according to the Associated Press.

"I'm not concerned as a large part of our organisation, if you look at 25,000, we’ve had 12 identified and some of those they are just looking into, it may be unrelated to this, but we want to make sure out of an abundance of caution, as I stated earlier, that we do the right thing until that gets cleared up," General Hokanson told reporters.

Pentagon officials did not disclose details about the service members. Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that “much of the information” is “unrelated to the events taking place at the Capitol or to the concerns that many people have noted on extremism.”

“These are vetting efforts that identify any questionable behavior in the past or any potential link to questionable behavior, not just related to extremism,” he told reporters.

Federal authorities have identified a growing number of law enforcement and military personnel who joined the insurrection on 6 January.

In a statement on Monday, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said that while it’s “normal” to vet service members for “large security events” like the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, the Pentagon has “no intelligence indicating an insider threat”. The FBI is assisting with screening efforts.

“We are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” he said. “However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique. The DC National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in DC that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command.”

More than 30 police officers from more than a dozen states participated in the rally that incited the riot to support Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and several other officers – as well as US military veterans – joined the mob inside the Capitol, underscoring warnings from civil rights groups about the far-right radicalisation inside law enforcement departments across the US.

On Monday, FBI agents also arrested two members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force at its Boston field for their “alleged roles in connection” to the Capitol insurrection.

Federal law enforcement has identified at least six people with military histories now in federal custody from its sprawling investigation into rioters. That includes a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, a US Army officer and an Army reservist. An Air Force veteran was killed by Capitol Police during the attack.

The Pentagon and Justice Department now are acting with relative urgency after civil rights group as well as federal agencies have sounded alarms about the rising threats of far-right violence and white supremacist groups.

The Associated Press cited a US Army official and a senior intelligence official with knowledge of the troops’ removal and extremist ties. It was not immediately clear on Tuesday which states the two service members were from or what militia groups they are connected to.

Heightened security throughout the nation’s capital surrounding the inauguration follows intelligence warnings among federal law enforcement in the wake of the attack on the Capitol.

The attacks in Washington DC and the deaths of rioters will “very likely serve as a significant driver of violence” and galvanise groups and inspire “more sporadic, lone-actor or small-cell violence” against others, according to the bulletin, released by the FBI, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center.

The latest bulletin, dated 13 January, says those groups “very likely pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in