Security has been ramped up at the US Capitol in response to “a possible plot to breach” the building on Thursday, Capitol police say.
US federal authorities and the Capitol Police did confirmed on Wednesday they have gathered intelligence that an “identified militia group” has possible plans to breach the seat of government on March 4, and has increased security measures in response.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the Capitol Police, a law enforcement agency tasked with protecting Capitol grounds, said in a release.
The force reiterate that it was “prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress”. “Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol,” the US Capitol Police said in a statement. “We are taking the intelligence seriously.
NBC News reported a joint bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI similarly that warned of planned violence.
The House of Representatives has scrapped Thursday’s session after the threat was revealed. However, the Senate, which also convenes in the Capitol, plans to go ahead with a debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion (£1.36 trillion) Covid-19 relief bill.
The threat comes two months after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building on January 6 while elected lawmakers were inside moving to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
The FBI has been investigating whether far-right fringe groups, such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, conspired in advance to impede the election certification. So far, at least 18 associates of the Proud Boys have been charged for roles in the riots.
A federal grand jury indicted nine associates of the far-right, anti-government Oath Keepers militia on Friday for conspiring to storm the US Capitol on January 6 to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The indictment alleged that the group conspired as far back as November to storm the Capitol, and extensively planned for a military-style attack that even contemplated staging an armed “quick reaction force” outside the city that would be ready to move if ordered by then-President Donald Trump.
The activities of these fringe groups have the tendency of supporting Trump’s course and by inference, the plot to bridge Capitol building
The possible plot is fingered by authorities and terrorism experts to be connected to a theory related to the far-right Qanon conspiracy movement. QAnon conspiracists believe Trump was chosen to combat a cabal of global liberal elites who are either interdimensional demons or aliens that harvest children’s blood to remain young.
The theory proposes that March 4 is the true inauguration date for former President Donald Trump, whom they believe won in November polls and would remain in office to continue battling “globalists”.
Trump repeated false claims the election was stolen from him by voter fraud and his adamant position makes critics believe it has emboldened adherents of Qanon theories. It could be recalled that Trump’s claim had led to his second impeachment on a charge of “insurrection” related to the January 6 Capitol riot.
The movement is reported to be based on “drops”, or forum posts, from an anonymous figure known as Q. However, QAnon is largely decentralised but features cooperation among adherents and has subsumed various aspects of numerous other conspiracies.
The theories have spread globally and even into US politics. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is known for her past support of aspects of the QAnon movement.
The movement was in disarray after Biden was inaugurated on January 20, though its myriad members continue to propose new theories.
While authorities warn of potential violence, purported QAnon adherents in chat groups are already saying nothing will occur on March 4, calling it a “false flag”.
Some have said the “true inauguration” could occur in April, while others say it may not happen at all.