Friday Jan 15, 2021
Highly trained former military officers were part of the mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6, a startling report by the Associated Press and published by Bloomberg on Friday shows.
Encouraged by US President Donald Trump's inflammatory rhetoric regarding the validity of the 2020 US election results, armed mobs broke into the United States Capitol — the equivalent of Parliament House, the building where the US House of Representatives and Senate (Congress) meet — vandalising the most central symbol of American democracy.
AP's review of public records, social media posts, and videos shows that at least 21 current or former military or police personnel have been identified at or near the Capitol riot.
People were seen wearing military-style helmets, body armor, rucksacks and two-way radios, identical to the ones the police they confronted had.
Moreover, the group marching up the Capitol building's steps in a "Ranger File" formation during the breach wore patches that read "MILITIA" and "OATHKEEPER". Others were wearing patches and insignias representing far-right militant groups, including the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters.
More than 110 people have been arrested so far.
The chief of the US Capitol Police stepped down after the attack and several officers stand suspended with their conduct during the incident the subject of a probe.
The FBI has warned of the likelihood of more bloodshed in the weeks ahead.
Furthermore, in an internal message to all service members the military’s top leaders warned that "the right to free speech gives no one the right to commit violence", the report states.
According to the report, experts on homegrown radicalism have sounded the alarm for years about far-right militants and white-supremacist groups working "to radicalise and recruit people with military and law enforcement training".
They say that the January 6 attacks that left five people dead, saw some of their "worst fears realised".
One such person to emerge is Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock, Jr, a retired Air Force lieutenant from Texas who was taken into police custody after being photographed wearing a helmet and body armor on the premises and holding zip-tie handcuffs.
Another such personnel was an Air Force veteran from San Diego. "She was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to leap through a barricade near the House chamber," according to the AP report.
Social media posts seen by AP included one by a retired Navy SEAL — among the most elite special warfare operators in the military. He posted a video on Facebook about travelling all the way from Ohio to take part in the rally "and seemingly approving of the invasion of 'our building, our house'.”
Police officers arrested by the FBI included two from a small town in Virginia. They posted a selfie while inside the Capitol "one flashing his middle finger at the camera".
Also being probed is an "active-duty psychological warfare captain" from North Carolina, who, according to the report, "organised three busloads of people who headed to Washington for the 'Save America' rally in support" of Trump.
The report details many more such cases of servicemen, active as well as retired, having taken part in the rally and the violence that came in its aftermath.