Six months after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, the hunt for the assailants continues.
The initial arrest waves in the fatal siege at the United States Capitol concentrated on easy targets. On Jan. 6, dozens of members of the pro-Trump mob brazenly boasted about their behavior on social media, which was captured in stunning footage broadcast live by national news organizations.
However, six months after the uprising, the Justice Department is still looking for dozens of rioters, despite the fact that the first of almost 500 people detained has pled guilty. The struggle underlines the investigation’s huge scope and the arduous task ahead of authorities in the face of a growing effort by certain Republican lawmakers to reinterpret the events of that day.
Among those who have evaded capture are the individual who planted two pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic national committee buildings the night before the melee, as well as other individuals accused of assaulting law enforcement personnel or threatening to harm journalists. The FBI’s website seeking information about those responsible for the Capitol violence contains over 900 photographs of approximately 300 people classified ‘unidentified.’
A portion of the problem stems from the fact that officials made relatively few arrests on Jan. 6. They were instead focused on clearing the building of members of the large mob that attacked police, vandalized historic property, and combed the halls seeking lawmakers to assassinate. Federal investigators are compelled to retrace their steps and track down participants.
Since then, the FBI has received a flood of tips and digital media from the public. However, a tip is simply the beginning of a laborious process involving search warrants and interviews to authenticate individuals’ names and attendance at the rebellion in order to bring a case to court. And many of the attackers are unknown to officials because this was their first brush with the law.
‘The majority of these individuals have never been on the FBI’s radar,’ said Frank Montoya Jr., a former FBI special agent who oversaw the bureau’s Seattle and Honolulu field offices. ‘You watch a movie and a name appears on the radar screen, and they instantly know all of his aliases and the last location he ate dinner, all with the touch of a button. Regrettably, it is not the case in reality.’
The FBI has been assisted by “sedition hunters,” or armchair detectives, who have collaborated to identify some of the most elusive suspects by poring over the voluminous video and photographic evidence from the assault.
Forrest Rogers, a business consultant who helped form the ‘Deep State Dogs,’ a squad of sedition hunters, said the group had alerted the FBI to the likely identities of roughly 100 suspects based on evidence gathered.
Occasionally, a distinguishing article of clothing assists the group in finding a match. In one instance, Rogers said, a woman carrying a distinctive iPhone cover on Jan. 6 had been photographed wearing the identical case during a previous demonstration.
‘It is a matter of pursuing justice,’ he explained. ‘This is unprecedented in our country’s history.’ ‘Where else have you had several thousand people commit a crime and then disperse around the United States?’ Rogers inquired.
John Scott-Railton is a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, where he has worked with journalists and others to identify suspects using digital clues. While much is known about the’small fish’ that committed crimes that day, he stated that a better understanding of the acts of organized group leaders is required.
“We all need to be in a position to have discussions about what happened on Jan. 6th that go beyond a group of folks inspired by a set of ideals that turned up at the Capitol,’ he added.
Among those sought are numerous individuals suspected of brutal assaults on cops. The FBI released video of an unnamed man brandishing a baton at officers. In another, a man is seen pulling the gas mask off a cop who screams in agony as he is crushed into a doorway by an angry throng.
In some instances, social media networks have turned over incriminating posts that defendants attempted to remove after their jubilant celebrations of the siege gave way to fear of arrest. Frequently, authorities were tipped off by the perpetrators’ own family, friends, or acquaintances.
The FBI employed face matching algorithms in one instance to locate a suspect on his girlfriend’s Instagram account. Agents then went undercover and discreetly videotaped the man at work, eliciting an admission from him that he was in the crowd, which he described as’fun.’
‘The more of these individuals you identify – maybe through search warrants and social media conversations – the more individuals you will be able to identify,’ said Tom O’Connor, a former special agent who worked on counterterrorism before leaving the agency in 2019. ‘Those apprehended will then be given the opportunity to collaborate and identify further suspects.’
The FBI is offering up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the individual responsible for the pipe bombs planted in Washington on Jan. 5. The footage appears to show a person wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a mask, and gloves placing one of the explosives beneath a bench outside the Democratic National Committee, as well as the person going in an area near the Republican National Committee before to the bomb’s placement. It is unknown whether the bombings were connected to uprising plans.
According to Justice Department authorities, arresting all participants in the insurgency is a primary goal. Authorities recently detained the 100th person charged with attacking a member of law enforcement and the first person charged with assaulting a member of the press – a man authorities allege assaulted a cameraman.
‘They will track them down,’ according to Robert Anderson Jr., former executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “I am not concerned with how long it takes. They will find them if they are looking for them.’
Over a dozen defendants charged on Jan. 6 have pled guilty, including two members of the Oath Keepers militia group who admitted conspiring with other radicals to obstruct President Joe Biden’s victory from being certified.
The majority of the other plea agreements struck thus far involve offenders charged with misdemeanors for illegally entering the Capitol. The lone defendant sentenced is an Indiana lady who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was not sentenced to prison time.