BREAKING: Officials fear possible inside attack at inauguration

Pentagon fears there could be an INSIDE attack during Biden’s inauguration and will vet all 25,000 National Guard troops stationed in DC – as Army reservist with ‘secret’ security clearance is arrested in Capitol siege

  • Defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack at the inauguration
  • It has prompted the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops
  • Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said officials are conscious of potential threat
  • Army reservist Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 30, of New Jersey has been arrested
  • He was described as an ‘white supremacist’ and had ‘secret’ security clearance

U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. 

It also underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance.

One Army reservist with ‘secret’ security clearance has already been arrested for his alleged part in the Capitol siege earlier this month. 

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 30, of New Jersey was described in court papers as an ‘avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer’ who allegedly ‘encouraged’ other violent rioters before being charged Friday. 

The riot at the Capitol, which left five people dead, has led to a reckoning unprecedented in American history. President Donald Trump told the crowd to march to the Capitol and that ‘you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.’

An Associated Press review of public records, social media posts and videos from Friday shows at least 22 current or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have been identified as being at or near, with more than a dozen others under investigation but not yet named. 

In many cases, those who stormed the Capitol appeared to employ tactics, body armor and technology such as two-way radio headsets that were similar to those of the very police they were confronting. 

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential threat

National Guard members unload weapons and supplies outside of the U.S. Capitol building on Sunday after last week’s riots and security breach at the U.S. Capitol Building

Members of the National Guard walk in the Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation’s capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential inauguration threat, and warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches. 

So far, however, he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues.

‘We´re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,’ McCarthy said in an interview after he and other military leaders went through an exhaustive, three-hour security drill in preparation for Wednesday´s inauguration. 

He said Guard members are also getting training on how to identify potential insider threats.

Hale-Cusanelli, the arrested army reservist with ‘secret’ security clearance, is alleged to have told other rioters to ‘advance’. 

He now faces charges including knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, The New York Post reports. 

An affidavit says he has access to ‘a variety of munitions’ in his role at the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck. It is understood Hale-Cusanelli told an informant ‘if they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building’. 

A complaint states: ‘Hale-Cusanelli also admitted to taking a flag and flagpole that he observed another rioter throw ‘like a javelin’ at a Capitol Police officer, which Hale-Cusanelli described as a ‘murder weapon.’ 

‘Hale-Cusanelli stated his intent to destroy or dispose of the flag and flagpole as soon as he could.’ 

About 25,000 members of the National Guard are streaming into Washington from across the country – at least two and a half times the number for previous inaugurals. 

And while the military routinely reviews service members for extremist connections, the FBI screening is in addition to any previous monitoring.

Multiple officials said the process began as the first Guard troops began deploying to D.C. more than a week ago. And they said it is slated to be complete by Wednesday.

National Guard troops are seen in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration

Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Virginia National Guard stand watch on the National Mall on Sunday 

‘The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?’ said McCarthy. ‘We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.’

In a situation like this one, FBI vetting would involve running peoples’ names through databases and watchlists maintained by the bureau to see if anything alarming comes up. 

That could include involvement in prior investigations or terrorism-related concerns, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security supervisor in Seattle.

Insider threats have been a persistent law enforcement priority in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks. But in most cases, the threats are from homegrown insurgents radicalized by al-Qaida, the Islamic State group or similar groups. 

In contrast, the threats against Biden´s inauguration have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups. 

Many believe Trump´s baseless accusations that the election was stolen from him, a claim that has been refuted by many courts, the Justice Department and Republican officials in key battleground states.

Experts in homegrown extremism have warned for years about efforts by far-right militants and white-supremacist groups to radicalize and recruit people with military and law enforcement training. 

Among the most prominent to emerge is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and decorated combat veteran from Texas who was arrested after he was photographed wearing a helmet and body armor on the floor of the Senate, holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs. 

Another Air Force veteran from San Diego was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to leap through a barricade near the House chamber. 

A retired Navy SEAL, among the most elite special warfare operators in the military, posted a Facebook video about traveling from his Ohio home to the rally and seemingly approving of the invasion of ‘our building, our house.’

Two police officers from a small Virginia town, both of them former infantrymen, were arrested by the FBI after posting a selfie of themselves inside the Capitol, one flashing his middle finger at the camera.

Also under scrutiny is an active-duty psychological warfare captain from North Carolina who organized three busloads of people who headed to Washington for the ‘Save America’ rally in support the president’s false claim that the November election was stolen from him.

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