SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed law enforcement partners they are aware of a “small number of recent online threats of violence” connected to the “Justice for J6” rally outside the U.S. Capitol, Saturday, including “online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally.”
The bulletin produced by DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis and shared with state, local, tribal and territorial partners on Thursday “assess[es] that some individuals involved in or opposed to the ‘Justice for J6’ rally planned for 18 September at Union Square (which encompasses the U.S. Capitol) in Washington, D.C., may seek to engage in violence but lack indications of a specific or credible plot associated with the event.”
Fencing goes up around Capitol ahead of weekend rally
Temporary fencing has been installed around the U.S. Capitol as a precautionary measure. The U.S. Capitol Police requested the National Guard Quick Reaction Force to be on standby near the Capitol. Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police, as well as additional officers from surrounding cities and federal agencies who have Civil Disturbance Unit training, have also been activated.
According to the intelligence bulletin obtained by CBS News, social media users have discussed storming the U.S. Capitol on the night before the rally. Earlier this month, one user “commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress,” the bulletin says.
“Other references to violence identified on social media include discussions of using the rally to target local Jewish institutions, elected officials, and ‘liberal churches,'” the bulletin reads.
Up to 700 people are expected to attend Saturday’s rally in support of those who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 — a significantly smaller number than the “tens of thousands” who came that day to protest the 2020 presidential election outcome.
Event organizers have indicated that they’ve received “death threats” from those opposed to the rally, DHS told law enforcement partners Thursday.
Intelligence officials noted that a counter-rally is slated to take place on Saturday at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., raising the possibility of clashes between ideological opponents.
“Lone offenders and small groups of individuals can mobilize to violence with little-to-no warning, particularly in response to confrontational encounters with perceived opponents or calls for escalation by key influencers,” the intelligence product reads. “The likely use of encrypted or closed communication platforms by those seeking to commit violence challenges law enforcement’s ability to identify and disrupt potential plotting.”
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the intelligence bulletin.
“Out of an abundance of caution, DHS is coordinating with the U.S. Capitol Police and its partners across every level of government to maintain situational awareness and ensure public safety at rallies over the weekend,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News. “We are specifically working with federal, state, local, and private sector partners in the National Capitol Region to assist with related protective measures and response plans. Members of the public are encouraged to review DHS’s updated National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the current heightened threat environment across the United States, should remain aware of the evolving threat environment, and should report suspicious activity to law enforcement officials.”
Last month, DHS identified a “heightened threat environment” in its latest NTAS bulletin, warning of extremists “seek[ing] to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.”