Capitol riots saw nearly 22 current or ex-members of US military, police forces involved in violence: Report
The trained rioters were seen employing combat-style tactics amid reports that White supremacists are recruiting in the US armed forces
The January 6 riot carried out by angry supporters of President Donald Trump at the Capitol Hill building has left America’s political circles deeply worried. And to add more to the anxiety, it has now come to light that at least 22 current or former members of the US military or law enforcement were found to be involved in the violence in which five people were killed. Many people with military training were seen on camera using tactics that are employed by armed forces.
One particular image from the Capitol showed a line of men sporting combat helmets and boy armor as they walked in a single-file line with each man holding the jacket collar of the one in front, Associated Press reported.
“The formation, known as 'Ranger File', is standard operating procedure for a combat team that is 'stacking up' to breach a building — instantly recognizable to any US soldier or Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a chilling sign that many at the vanguard of the mob that stormed the seat of American democracy either had military training or were trained by those who did,” the AP report said.
A retired air force lieutenant colonel and decorated combat veteran from Texas was arrested after being photographed wearing a helmet and body armor inside the Senate. He was also seen holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs. A couple of police officers from Virginia — both former infantrymen — were arrested by the FBI after posting a selfie inside the Capitol.
AP conducted a review of public records, posts and videos on social media to say at least 22 current or former members of the military were found to be present near the Capitol disturbance. More than a dozen others were under probe but were yet to be named.
In a shocking revelation, AP said many of those who stormed the seat of the Congress when it met to affirm the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election appeared to use tactics and technology (like two-way radio headsets) that were similar to those that were employed by law-keepers they were confronting during the mission. One of the five victims of the violence included Ashli Babbitt, a former air force veteran.
The reports of the presence of active or former members of the armed forces at the Capitol Hill building on January 6 saw top military leaders including Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a memo reiterating the military’s commitment to the country’s constitution and backing the fact that Biden is set to become the next president of the US.
However, the incident has also brought to the fore the warning that far-right and White supremacists are actively recruiting in the American military and have garnered support in the recent past. Authorities have been aware of this threat and have pledged to eliminate extremism from the armed forces but latest revelations by the AP suggest that the reality is far from assuring.
America's enemies abroad will be excited, feels expert
America’s fiercest of enemies will be elated, according to experts. Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, was quoted by AP as saying: “ISIS and al-Qaida would drool over having someone with the training and experience of a US military officer."
“These people have training and capabilities that far exceed what any foreign terrorist group can do. Foreign terrorist groups don’t have any members who have badges.”
The Pentagon refused to provide an estimate of how many active-duty military personnel were being probed, according to the AP report. Meanwhile, top leaders of the military were anxious ahead of Biden’s inauguration on January 20 and reminded all service members in the recent memo that the right to free speech did not give anyone a right to commit violence.