Authorities tracking multiple threats for a 'week of siege' after Capitol breach

Law enforcement sources warn violent extremists could pose a "grave danger."

January 13, 2021, 4:59 PM

ABC News has received an exclusive detailed look at the array of potential threats federal authorities are tracking in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration.

Authorities are tracking up to 10 protests or demonstrations that are being promoted to occur in Washington, D.C. between now and Inauguration Day for what some groups are calling the “Week of Siege,” according to a law enforcement source.

Federal law enforcement assessments warn of potentially violent elements who may feel emboldened by the successful breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6. There is also concern among federal law enforcement agencies that the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt during the attempted insurrection, the ongoing impeachment of President Donald Trump, and the pending peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden could raise the stakes for extremists.

Authorities are paying particular attention to an event organized by a collection of right-wing extremist groups, including the Proud Boys. Their ambitions include an idea to hold an event in the coming days to “capture and detain” Democratic politicians and set up a new government led by Republican leaders of their choosing, according to internet postings reviewed by law enforcement.

A member of the National Guard adjusts his protective mask near the Capitol building in Washington, Jan. 13, 2021.
Brandon Bell/Reuters

Although security planners do not believe the group will be able to rally the 15,000 participants they are hoping for, law enforcement sources believe that because of an expressed willingness to fight to the death, even small numbers of violent extremists could pose a “grave danger” to law enforcement and Congress.

The event organizers also want Trump to stay in office beyond Jan. 20 and want to try and convict congressional Democrats and eliminate "mainstream" media outlets, which they view as anti-American, ABC News has learned.

Messages from the organizers state they “will not fire the first shot” but pledged to use “extreme” and possibly “fatal” measures if deemed necessary to reach “our goal of eliminating the Democrat ideology from America forever," according to postings government security planners have reviewed.

Other groups are promoting events pledging to surround the White House and the U.S. Capitol to “stop the steal,” a reference to the false belief that the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate. Law enforcement officers and military members, both current and former, are being encouraged to attend, sources say.

A website associated with the anti-government boogaloo movement, whose adherents believe in a coming civil war, are also promoting “the largest armed protest to ever take place on American soil.” Participants may want to “avenge the death of Ashli Babbitt” and stop the peaceful transition of power, authorities warn.

PHOTO: U.S. Capitol Police install a metal detector outside the House of Representatives Chamber, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Capitol Police install a metal detector outside the House of Representatives Chamber, January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Still other militia groups are promoting events with the stated beliefs that the election results are “treasonous and illegitimate” and anyone who stands in their way will be “treated as an enemy combatant.”

Law enforcement officials are also tracking other demonstrations that are being promoted around the city, including the pro-Trump “Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump” and the “March for Trump,” scheduled to occur just days before Trump is scheduled to leave office.

Many of the proposed venues for these various demonstrations are already locked down for the inauguration and are no longer accessible to the public due to street closures, newly installed non-scalable fencing and heavy armed law enforcement and military presence .

However, security planners are mindful that determined protesters in Portland, Oregon, last summer were able to defeat fencing by using power tools, ropes, chains and other improvised tools.

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