WASHINGTON, DC — The FBI warned of a violent “war” at the U.S. Capitol in an internal report issued a day before last week’s deadly siege, but it wasn’t acted on urgently enough to prevent the terrorist attack, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The Post said that last Tuesday, an FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, issued an “explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and ‘war.'” The report “painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up” in several states before heading to Washington, DC.
The report runs contrary to statements made by law enforcement officials that authorities missed key signs ahead of the siege, which left five dead and ransacked the Capitol. It’s likely to raise additional questions about why authorities were unprepared to respond to the riot and federal readiness to thwart future threats at a time when the FBI is warning of armed protests ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The report referenced an online thread in which conspirators discussed their plans, quoting individuals as saying: “‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.'”
The information was “briefed to FBI officials at the bureau’s Washington field office the day before the attack,” the Post reported. The newspaper, however, said the document is clear that the information presented was not “finally evaluated intelligence,” and that agencies receiving it “are requested not to take action based on this raw reporting without prior coordination with the FBI.”
The newspaper also reported that the FBI was careful with its description of the individuals and organizations listed in the report, with the bureau writing that the activities they engaged in are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and that though they were mentioned in the report, “Their inclusion here is not intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security, or to infer that such protected activity itself violates federal law.”
But the report also warned that “based on known intelligence and/or specific historical observations, it is possible the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individual or others in retaliation or with the goal of stopping the protected activity from occurring in the first instance,” according to the Post.
Officials said last week that going into Wednesday, they had no intelligence indicating there was a threat the U.S. Capitol could be overrun. In the wake of the attack, federal and local officials have said they did not have intelligence suggesting any violent mob was preparing to attack the Capitol, even as demonstrators were publicly saying on social media they were not planning a typical protest.