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Guns, Ammunition… Even a Boat: How Oath Keepers Planned an Armed Coup | Attack on the US Capitol

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The seditious conspiracy charges against militia leader Oath Keepers and 10 others linked to the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill exposed an armed plot against American democracy that involved tactical planning and a formidable arsenal of weapons.

The court documents released Thursday provide the most detailed account to date of the level of planning of the far-right militia in the assault on Capitol Hill that sought to derail the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The documents describe the creation of rapid response teams of armed militia members, the deployment of tactical equipment and the stockpiling 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 scaring lawmakers away. Five people died around the events, including a Capitol Hill cop and a Trump supporter who were shot and killed by law enforcement. The attempt to prevent Biden from becoming president has failed.

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

The Oath Keepers even discussed a naval operation to transport guns to the militia. Oath keeper Thomas Caldwell asked the other members if anyone had a boat capable of crossing the Potomac River. “If we had someone by a dock ramp (one near the Pentagon for sure), we could have our rapid response team with the heavy weapons on hand, load them quickly, and haul them across the river up to our arms waiting, ”the documents quoted him as saying.

Rhodes embarked 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 weapon sight for around $ 7,000 and shipped them to Virginia. In January, he spent an additional $ 5,000 on a shotgun, rifle scope, magazine, sights, optics, bipod, mount, case of ammunition and gun cleaning supplies. Two days later he spent an additional $ 6,000, then about $ 4,500 the next day.

Guns, Ammunition… Even a Boat: How Oath Keepers Planned an Armed Coup |  Attack on the US Capitol

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Stewart Rhodes. Photograph: Jim Urquhart / Reuters

In panel discussions, the Oath Keepers discussed how their Rapid Reaction Force (QRF) teams would locate at the Comfort Inn in Ballston Arlington, Va., To “use as a base of operations for Jan.6. 2021 “. They reserved three rooms; one was occupied by the so-called “QRF” team from North Carolina while the “QRF teams” from Arizona and Florida remained in the other two. They used hotel rooms to store guns and ammunition.

“It’s easy to dismiss much of what’s in the indictment as 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 Research & Education on Human Rights, a group that monitors far-right groups.

“The dangers are there regardless of their ability to fulfill all of their fantasies,” Burghart said.

Planning for some sort of operation appeared to begin right after last November’s election, as Trump baselessly disputed the election results. Two days after the election, Rhodes invited some members of the Oath Keepers to a group chat on Signal, an encrypted messaging app called “Leadership intel sharing secure”.

Rhodes texted the group: “We won’t go through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body and spirit.

On November 7, 2020, when it was finally predicted that Trump would lose the election, Rhodes began plotting, texting the group chat: “We must now do what the people of Serbia did when Milosevic stole his election. Refuse to accept it and march en masse on the Capitol of Nations. Rhodes then shared a video on Bitchute, an alt-tech video platform, of a step-by-step walkthrough on how to topple a government based on the Serbian example.

Two days later, Rhodes hosted an online conference with members of Oath Keepers outlining a plan to overturn the election. Two days later, a member of the group, Caldwell, contacted Rhodes to share the results of a “reconnaissance” – a military colloquy for a reconnaissance operation – in Washington and to begin planning an upcoming “operation” on Capitol Hill.

From there, the members started to work together. At the end of November, the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers organized training on “unconventional warfare”. “It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We will fight. It cannot be avoided, ”Rhodes wrote in a panel discussion with members in December.

On December 21, 2020, Oath Keepers first mentioned January 6. James Wakins, one of the 11 Oath Keepers indicted in the case, texted the signal conversation about a “national call to action for DC on January 6” and said the Oath Keepers from three states mobilized “Everyone in this channel should understand the magnitude of what I just said,” Wakins wrote.

Rhodes told a regional leader of Oath Keeper that if Biden took over the presidency, “We will have to make a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them. This is what is going to have to happen.

At 6:27 am on 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 at a hotel in Virginia discussed the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla war.”

At the Capitol, the Oath Keepers marched in formation wearing tactical gear, including body armor, helmets and goggles, as they carried radios, chemical sprays and hard gloves. In the group chat, one member shared the rumor that it was leftist groups that violated the Capitol. “No, I’m here, they’re Patriots,” Rhodes replied.

Rhodes never entered the Capitol, but other members of the Oath Keepers did. Jessica Watkins texted in one of the Oath Keepers group chats: “We’re in the main dome right now. We rock it. They throw grenades, they freak out shooting people with paintballs. But here we are. Another member replied with enthusiastic curses that this was what they were “training for”.

The indictment says Watkins and other Oath Keepers in a formation joined a crowd pushing against a line of law enforcement officers in a hallway containing the rotunda to the Senate Chamber, Watkins ordered those around him to “Push, push, push… get in there, get in.

Guns, Ammunition… Even a Boat: How Oath Keepers Planned an Armed Coup | Attack on the US Capitol

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