Wednesday, December 7

Guns, ammunition … even a ship: how Oath Keepers planned a gun coup | attack on the united states capitol


Charges of seditious conspiracy against Militia leader Oath Keepers and 10 others related to the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol have revealed an armed plot against American democracy that involved tactical planning and a formidable arsenal of weapons.

Court documents released Thursday provide the most detailed description to date of the level of planning by the far-right militia in the assault on the Capitol that was aimed at ruining Joe Biden’s certification of election victory.

The documents describe the creation of rapid response teams of armed militiamen, the deployment of tactical equipment and the storage of weapons in a deliberate attempt to overturn the election of Democrat Joe Biden, who defeated Donald Trump.

On January 6, thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building, injuring police officers and forcing lawmakers to flee. Five people were killed around the events, including a Capitol police officer and a Trump supporter shot by police. The attempt to prevent Biden from becoming president failed.

The federal indictment alleges that Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers, conspired with 10 other members to forcibly oppose the legal transfer of presidential power. The group stationed armed members outside of Washington to serve as so-called “rapid reaction force” teams.

The Oath Keepers even discussed a naval operation to transport weapons to the militia. One Oath Keeper, Thomas Caldwell, asked his companions if anyone had a boat that could cross the Potomac River. “If we had someone waiting on a dock ramp (one near the Pentagon for sure) we could have our Rapid Response Team with the heavy weapons waiting, load them quickly and transport them across the river to our waiting arms,” ​​the documents. he quoted him saying.

Rhodes went on a shopping spree in the days leading up to the attack, spending more than $ 20,000 on weapons and equipment for the attack. In December, Rhodes purchased two pairs of night vision goggles and a gun scope for around $ 7,000 and shipped them to Virginia. In January he spent another $ 5,000 on a shotgun, scope, magazine, sights, optics, bipod, mount, ammunition box, and gun cleaning supplies. Two days later, he spent $ 6,000 more and then about $ 4,500 the next day.

Stewart Rhodes.
Stewart Rhodes. Photograph: Jim Urquhart / Reuters

In group chats, the Oath Keepers discussed how their rapid reaction force (QRF) teams would be set up at the Comfort Inn in Ballston Arlington, Virginia, to “use as a base of operations for January 6, 2021.” They booked three rooms; one was filled by the so-called “QRF” team from North Carolina while the “QRF teams” from Arizona and Florida stayed in the other two. They used the hotel rooms to store firearms and ammunition.

“It is easy to dismiss much of what is in the prosecution as a fantasy, as a projection of what the Oath Keepers would like to see, but the events of January 6 remind us that these things can become reality very quickly.” said Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Human Rights Research and Education, a group that monitors far-right extremist groups.

“The dangers are there regardless of your ability to make all your fantasies come true,” Burghart said.

Planning for some kind of operation appeared to start right after last November’s election, when Trump baselessly questioned the election results. Two days after the election, Rhodes invited some Oath Keepers members to a group chat on Signal, an encrypted messaging app, titled “Sharing Secure Leadership Information.”

Rhodes texted the group: “We are not going to get through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body and spirit. “

On November 7, 2020, when it was finally projected that Trump had lost the election, Rhodes began to conspire and texted the group chat: “Now we must do what the people of Serbia did when Milosevic stole the elections from them. Refuse to accept it and march en masse on the nation’s Capitol ”. Rhodes then shared a video on Bitchute, an alternative technology video platform, of a step-by-step procedure on how to topple a government based on the Serbian example.

Two days later, Rhodes held an online conference with members of Oath Keepers to outline a plan to overturn the election. Two days later, a member of the group, Caldwell, approached Rhodes to share the results of a “reconnaissance” (a military colloquialism for a reconnaissance operation) to Washington and to begin planning an upcoming “operation” on Capitol Hill.

From there, the members started working together. In late November, the Florida chapter of Oath Keepers conducted a training on “unconventional warfare.” “It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We are going to have a fight. That can’t be helped, ”Rhodes wrote in a group chat with members in December.

On December 21, 2020, Oath Keepers mentioned January 6 for the first time. James Wakins, one of the 11 Oath Keepers charged in the case, texted the chat signal about a “National Call to Action for DC on January 6” and said the three-state Oath Keepers they were mobilizing “Everyone on this channel must understand the magnitude of what I just said,” Wakins wrote.

Rhodes told a regional Oath Keeper leader that if Biden became president, “We will have to make a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them. That is what is going to have to happen ”.

At 6:27 am on the morning of January 6, Rhodes texted the group chat: “We will have several well-equipped QRFs outside of DC” At around 8:30 am, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers left their hotel and headed to the Capitol in Washington DC.

Teams that stayed in a hotel in Virginia discussed the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla warfare.”

On the Capitol, the Oath Keepers marched in formation wearing tactical gear that included protective vests, helmets, and goggles while carrying radios, chemical sprays, and hard gloves. In the group chat, a member shared a rumor that it was leftist groups that had violated the Capitol. “No, I’m here, these are the Patriots,” Rhodes responded.

Rhodes never entered the Capitol, but other Oath Keepers members did. Jessica Watkins texted one of the Oath Keepers group chats: “We are in the main dome right now. We are shaking it. They are throwing grenades, shooting people with paintballs. But we are here. Another member responded with enthusiastic expletives that this was what they “trained” for.

The indictment says that Watkins and other Oath Keepers in a formation joined a mob pushing against a line of law enforcement officers in a hallway containing the Rotunda to the Senate chamber, Watkins ordered those around her to ” Push, push, push … get in there. ” , get in there. “


www.theguardian.com

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