Insider attack threat looming on Biden inauguration: What do we know so far
While the US department of homeland security implemented a security lockdown in downtown Washington DC ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden, the threat of an insider attack has prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to screen all the 25,000 National Guard troops entering the capital in order to thwart any danger looming over the event.
FBI director Christopher Wray had earlier highlighted the potential threats from armed individuals in close proximity to government buildings and officials, but the massive undertaking by US defence officials on the possible threat from service members now reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped the US capital.
What do we know so far?
In the aftermath of the Capitol riots and online chatter on far-right groups over armed protests, law enforcement agencies have been reportedly taking extra precaution for Biden’s inauguration week. During a briefing on internal security last Friday, the FBI director had said that the agency is tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration. “If we find that an individual poses a violent threat, then we and our partners will take advantage of every lawful authority and method we’ve got to disrupt any attempt or attack,” Wray told the briefing.
Around 25,000 members of the National Guard from across the United States have started entering Washington to secure the inaugural event scheduled for January 20, which is at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals. US army secretary Ryan McCarthy told the Associated Press on Sunday that he has warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks. “We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy was quoted as saying by the news agency.
However, McCarthy said that he has not seen any evidence of threats, so far, and officials vetting the security personnel hadn’t flagged any issues, adding that National Guard members also receiving training on how to identify the threat of potential insider attack. General Daniel R Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, reportedly said that there are good processes in place to identify any such potential threats.
“If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately,” Hokanson was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
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