Throughout 2020 and into 2021, ISD conducted in depth, regular monitoring designed to identify threats relating to the 2020 US presidential election. Our analysis was instrumental in providing long-range awareness around threats of violence relating to Donald Trump’s contestation of the elections results. We regularly briefed a range of stakeholders including law enforcement and civil society, and provided written evidence to the House’s January 6th Select Committee. ISD’s analysis was referenced in the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) review on the Intelligence Community’s failures in the days prior to the 2021 Capitol insurrection.
The Committee’s report, released in June, includes a timeline of the various tips and warnings the FBI received about potential violence on Jan 6 and, specifically, threats to the US Capitol. In this timeline, the Committee repeatedly cites our daily ethnographic briefings that were shared by ISD with law enforcement from the 23 December 2020 through 4 January 2021, and again on 5 January 2021, regarding potential mass mobilization. On 5 Jan., ISD sent analysis, reports and screenshots to the FBI stating that “[a]cross all platforms we’re seeing significant promotion of the upcoming protests in DC, along with posts claiming attendees plan to come armed” and “militia chatter about the protests.”
Additionally, we emphasized the overall state of paranoia among users, pointing out that “[d]iscussion of the January 6 pro-Trump protest in Washington DC has become particularly paranoid and extreme in nature, with warnings of violence and recommendations for participants to bring items such as knives, pepper spray and zip ties to use as handcuffs.” In one example of posts ISD shared with the FBI, one user wrote “[i]f we all bring our ******* guns there’s not one ******* thing they can or will dare to do,” while another posted “[e]ither Trump wins or we water the tree of liberty with blood. This is the final line, either we die for freedom or live in fear and slavery […] Now is the time. It is literally now, or never.”
The full report with references to our analysis is available on the HSGAC website.
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