The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like — in our society. Look at how many military and law enforcement types were involved in the Capitol assault and how many people in Congress supported the effort to overturn a free and fair election on January 6. — Frank Montoya, Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent
The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like — in our society. Look at how many military and law enforcement types were involved in the Capitol assault and how many people in Congress supported the effort to overturn a free and fair election on January 6. — Frank Montoya, Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent
Law enforcement veterans say the Capitol siege was just the tip of the iceberg of the 'cult-like' threat far-right extremists pose to the US
  • National security veterans told Insider the Capitol siege was just the tip of the iceberg on threats by white, right-wing extremists.
  • "The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like," a former FBI agent told Insider.
  • Another former FBI analyst detailed how extremists are using conspiracies to groom people to commit violence.
Frank Montoya, Jr., a recently retired FBI special agent, told Insider that the Capitiol siege indicates far-right extremism is a "fundamental" threat to national security, even more so than foreign terror groups. Indeed, many of these extremists are white, male US citizens, some with backgrounds in the military, and are less likely to be profiled as a terror threat than those of Middle Eastern descent in the post-9/11 era.

"The threat we're facing right now is not only real but deeply embedded — and cult-like — in our society," Montoya said. "Look at how many military and law enforcement types were involved in the Capitol assault and how many people in Congress supported the effort to overturn a free and fair election on January 6."

If the attack had come from ISIS or Al-Qaeda, "there would be blue-ribbon commissions, legislation, billions of dollars and thousands of employees from across the government thrown at the problem," he added. "The First Amendment and civil liberties are paramount, but far-right extremism isn't about that. It's about insurrection."


... In the wake of the Capitol siege, more than half a dozen federal agencies and entities came under intense scrutiny for failing to anticipate and respond to the threat posed to lawmakers and the electoral process. They included the DHS, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, the FBI, the US Capitol Police, the National Guard, and others.

To that end, experts said, the Biden administration will need to employ a whole-of-government response that treats domestic, far-right extremism as a threat to national security, foreign policy, economic policy, and the overall health of the United States. It will also need to address the blind spot agencies have when addressing threats posed by far-right actors motivated by racist and white supremacist ideologies.

Montoya said the FBI, in particular, has a "huge role" in combating far-right extremism in the US, even absent a domestic terrorism statute.

The bureau "already has the tools and authorities it needs to investigate the kinds of illegal activities far-right extremists engage in," he said. Beyond that, he added, the US intelligence community also has a significant role to play, particularly as it relates to links between far-right extremists within the US's borders and criminal or nation-state supporters overseas.

Then there's the threat from within.

"If you look at law enforcement in the US, there's generally a high risk of these organizations being permeated by white, right-wing extremists," Peterson said. "So it's one thing to issue a notice from the top, but does it actually also point to a fundamental reorganization of the whole entity, as we saw after 9/11? This DHS bulletin points to activities surrounding the inauguration and transition, and it expires in April. So the question is, will they issue a longer-term notice? Because this is a fundamental, long-simmering threat to the US."

... The Biden administration has made clear that it considers far-right, domestic extremism an urgent threat to the nation.

At his inauguration, President Joe Biden singled out the issue, saying, "A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat."


... Randy Pargman, a senior director at the cybersecurity firm Binary Defense and a former FBI analyst, told Insider the government also needs to take different approaches depending on the type of homegrown actor it's dealing with.

"There are two different groups of people who represent a potential threat to the public. One is a very small group of individuals who are completely dedicated to the cause of violence and have decided that's the way they're going to respond. Their goals are entrenched," he said. "The other group are people who feel disconnected or disenfranchised; they're angry and they feel like something needs to be done, but they haven't gone all the way to committing to acts of violence."

Pargman added that "the goal of the smaller group of violent extremists is to reach out to that larger group of people who are feeling disenfranchised and to communicate with them one-on-one."

"There's a recruiting process, an evaluation process, what you could even call a grooming process where the most violent extremists communicate with the people they're trying to radicalize. Over time, they become that person's trusted source of information," he said. "And then they slowly turn up the temperature. They won't talk about violence early on, but after developing a rapport with that person, they'll start doing things that people in abusive relationships do by cutting that person off from their family and friends and other trusted sources of information. And that person can become radicalized over time and be convinced to participate in much more violent acts."

... "We're already seeing pushback from the GOP in Congress and on Fox News centered around free speech and intolerance," Peterson said. "Another thing we'll likely see is the Second Amendment angle, with Republicans saying the federal government is going to come for your guns. And then the third thing will center on states' rights, whose roots, of course, lay in preserving slavery."
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/capitol-siege-was-tip-of-iceberg-for-far-right-extremists-2021-1