Following Trump, the group planned a military-style attack that even contemplated staging an armed ‘reaction’ force.
US federal authorities and the Capitol Police confirmed on Wednesday they have gathered intelligence that an “identified militia group” has possible plans to breach the seat of government on March 4, and have increased security measures in response.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the Capitol Police, a law enforcement agency tasked with protecting Capitol grounds, said in a release.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4. We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers.”
NBC News reported a joint bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI similarly that warned of planned violence.
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC on Wednesday evening, said the US House of Representatives had suspended its proceedings for the day on Thursday “out of an abundance of caution” after the potential threats.
Hanna said the US Senate was still scheduled to meet, however.
Breaking: Joint FBI/ DHS intel bulletin warns some domestic violent extremists have "discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove democratic lawmakers on or about 4 March."
— Julia E. Ainsley (@JuliaEAinsley) March 3, 2021
The possible plot appears to be connected to a theory related to the far-right QAnon conspiracy movement. QAnon conspiracists believe Trump was chosen to combat a cabal of global liberal elites who are either interdimensional demons or aliens that harvest children’s blood to remain young.
The theory proposes that March 4 is the true inauguration date for former President Donald Trump, whom they believe won in November polls and would remain in office to continue battling “globalists”.
Trump repeated false claims the election was stolen from him by voter fraud – and continues to do so – which led to his second impeachment on a charge of “insurrection” related to the January 6 Capitol riot.
A Senate trial in January failed to convict him.
The movement is based on “drops”, or forum posts, from an anonymous figure known as Q. However, QAnon is largely decentralised but features cooperation among adherents and has subsumed various aspects of numerous other conspiracies.
The theories have spread globally and even into US politics. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is known for her past support of aspects of the QAnon movement.
The movement was in disarray after Biden was inaugurated on January 20, though its myriad members continue to propose new theories.
While authorities warn of potential violence, purported QAnon adherents in chat groups are already saying nothing will occur on March 4, calling it a “false flag”.
Some have said the “true inauguration” could occur in April, while others say it may not happen at all.
Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks the far right, told Al Jazeera she has seen no indication of planned violence.