Officials from the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police say they are taking "seriously" some intelligence that suggests there is a plot by a militia group and some QAnon believers to help bring Donald Trump back to power on March 4.
An FBI bulletin suggests that the Three Percenters may be leading a plot to breach the U.S. Capitol again in the name of Trump, and Capitol Police said on Tuesday that they were increasing security ahead of Thursday. They say in a statement that the "Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex."
As ABC News reports, the Capitol complex remains surrounded by temporary fencing topped with razor wire, and 5,000 National Guard troops remain on site following the January 6 breach.
"Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th," the Capitol Police said on Tuesday. "The Department has communicated our enhanced posture as well as the available intelligence for the entire workforce."
A law enforcement source tells ABC News that the FBI bulletin suggested the Three Percenters may be plotting to "use diversionary tactics such as detonating a bomb" to draw law enforcement away from the Capitol, and then storm the Capitol following the diversion. The group allegedly was trying to get 50,000 militia members to come to D.C. this week, but initial intelligence suggests they have not succeeded in gathering a force that big.
In their desperation, there has been a lot of QAnon chatter centering on March 4 in recent weeks — apparently in reference to March 4 being the original date for presidential inauguration in the Constitution. (That was prior to the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, which moved it to Jan. 20.) The stalwart believers now have pinned hopes on Trump returning to power — apparently through a domestic terrorist plot? — on Thursday.
The report is highly concerning as it marries both QAnon followers — who believe a vast array of sometimes contradictory and convoluted stories that center on Trump being a savior of democracy and a covert warrior against liberal pedophiles, of which there are hundreds or thousands in D.C. — and the Three Percenters, who have been fomenting a second American Revolution for years.
The Three Percenters are a right-wing extremist group — and there are splinter factions that use versions of the name 3%ers and III%ers in their names — that base their mission on the debunked myth that only three percent of American colonists took up arms against the British during the American Revolution. Federal prosecutors say that some members "regard the present-day US Government as analogous to the British" in terms of infringement on civil liberties, and they advocate taking up arms against them.
It may not shock you to learn that the Three Percenters was founded in 2008 in response to the election of Barack Obama, by a member of the Oath Keepers from Alabama, Michael "Mike" Brian Vanderboegh. Vanderboegh was a leftie back in the 70s and a member of Students for a Democratic Society, but by the 90s he had gone full right-wing and become a Second Amendment activist.
Interestingly, like so many of these groups, the Three Percenters claims on its website not to be a militia, and not to be white-supremacist, even though it's all a big racist morass of groups with overlapping memberships at this point.
Before QAnon went mainstream last year thanks to Facebook, the FBI had labeled it a "dangerous extremist group" back in August 2019. QAnon believers were saddened when the conspiracy-driven plotline of Trump declaring martial law and refusing to leave office on January 6 failed to come pass. And March 4 is apparently the latest carrot that's been dangled by whoever is pretending to be "Q" these days.
As ABC News reports, just this week, U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a confidential report to law enforcement agencies suggesting that the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism is being driven by "violent anti-government or anti-authority narratives, periods of prolonged civil unrest and conspiracy theories," and it is a trend that will likely continue into 2021 and "could escalate to include targeting of critical infrastructure."
In related news, Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland, who is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate soon, is somewhat of a specialist in domestic terrorism. As the New York Times reports, earlier in his career, before becoming a judge on the DC Circuit, Garland was the go-to person in the Justice Department on domestic terrorism after he led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Top image: DC National Guard troops stand watch at the U.S. Capitol on January 08, 2021 in Washington, DC. Fencing was put up around the building the day before, following the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)