Over 200 US Capitol rioters have right-wing extremist links, ADL says

Anti-Defamation League says many of those who participated in January 6 siege were part of new ‘pro-Trump extremist movement,’ weren’t spurred to violence by specific group

Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The Anti-Defamation League has said over 200 people who took part in the US Capitol riot have links to right-wing extremist movements.

In a report Wednesday, the ADL said it identified 212 out of 800 estimated people believed to have stormed the Capitol on January 6. Of those, 52 had direct ties to extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Groypers.

The ADL described other individuals it identified as part of the new “pro-Trump extremist movement,” a loosely knit faction of former president Donald Trump’s fervent supporters.

Most of the extremists weren’t spurred to violence by the leader of a specific group, according to the ADL.

“They are the product of weeks and months and years of incitement, lies and repeated conspiracy theories, many of which were propagated and/or openly embraced by President Trump,” the watchdog group said of these rioters.

The ADL also said the extremists at the Capitol came from across the United States.

“Our analysis makes clear that the violence on the capitol was aided and abetted by far-right domestic extremists from 38 states whose views represent some of the most extreme elements of our society,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

He added: “In the aftermath of their violent action at the Capitol, the chatter we are now seeing from these extremists shows that they are still animated and looking toward the next fight.”

Rioters loyal to then-US President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In nearly half of the more than 200 federal cases stemming from the attack on the Capitol, authorities have cited evidence that an insurrectionist appeared to be inspired by conspiracy theories or extremist ideologies, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

The FBI has linked at least 40 defendants to extremist groups or movements, including at least 16 members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys and at least five connected to the anti-government Oath Keepers. FBI agents also explicitly tied at least 10 defendants to QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has grown beyond its fringe origins to penetrate mainstream Republican politics.

In at least 59 other cases, authorities link defendants to violent or extremist rhetoric, conspiracy theories or other far-right connections on social media and other forums before, during or after the January 6 siege, a deeper review by the AP found.

Trump supporters confront US Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The AP’s review found that in many of those cases the defendants repeated false claims, made by Trump for months of his presidency, that the US election was rigged. Some broadcast death threats at Democrats on their social media accounts or in messages. Others were deeply entwined in a world of far-right conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. And dozens of the alleged rioters echoed words used by QAnon supporters, who push a baseless belief that Trump is a secret warrior fighting to expose a cabal of Satan-worshipping bureaucrats and celebrities who traffic children.

On Monday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will establish an independent, September 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the US Capitol.

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