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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Jan 19, 2021

Since a violent mob of President Donald Trump's supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol last week, U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that like-minded domestic terrorists could strike again when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as commander-in-chief next week.

But a wide-ranging threat assessment issued Thursday by several federal and local agencies makes it clear that U.S. agencies are preparing for the possibility that Biden's inauguration could inspire additional threats to the U.S. homeland, including foreign influence operations and even drone attacks from extremists.

"Since the incident at the U.S. Capitol, Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition," the threat assessment noted, citing at least once instance in which a Russian "proxy" promoted claims the rioters at the Capitol last week were actually members of the radical left-wing antifa movement who "disguised themselves" as Trump supporters.

Read more: ABC News

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Roy T. Cochran, Director, U.S. Army Counterintelligence Coordinating Authority, announced today the arrest of COLE JAMES BRIDGES, a/k/a “Cole Gonzales,” a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, on federal terrorism charges based on BRIDGES’s alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.  BRIDGES was charged by Complaint with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and attempting to murder U.S. military service members.  The FBI and Army Counterintelligence arrested BRIDGES today, and he will be presented on Thursday, January 21, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Cole Bridges betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members.  Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own.  Today, thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the JTTF, and our partners in the Department of Defense, Bridges is in custody and facing federal terrorism charges for his alleged crimes.”

Read more: Department of Justice

Gun-rights supporters — some armed — gathered around the state Capitol in Richmond on Monday. But blocked by police barricades, a caravan supporting their cause that formed just outside downtown was unable to get close to the seat of state government.

One man, Karl Golovin of Alexandria, drove around Capitol Square earlier, his car festooned with flags bearing the logo of the group behind the event, the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

He said a similar gathering last year made Golovin feel “as proud as I’ve ever been to be a Virginian. … I couldn’t have felt more safe or among friends.”

Not far away, a group of about six people walked together donning military gear and rifles. They waved at news cameras but declined to speak to a Virginian-Pilot reporter.

Read more: The Virginian-Pilot

A woman was arrested Saturday for allegedly impersonating a law enforcement officer and claiming to be a presidential cabinet member at an inauguration checkpoint, D.C. Police said.

The woman, identified as 63-year-old Linda MaGovern, of Stratford, Connecticut, reportedly approached U.S. Capitol officers at an inauguration checkpoint on First and Columbus Circle in Northeast D.C. around 8:45 a.m. Saturday. Police said MaGovern showed them a military police challenge coin and said she was a part of law enforcement and a member of the presidential cabinet.

Read more: WUSA9

A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol.

According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was “caught up” in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

Read more: NBC Washington