Although it didn’t succeed in shutting down the certification of the Electoral College votes in the free and fair 2020 presidential election, the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol was, in its own way, a success nonetheless in its likely inspiration for events such as today’s threatened bombing of the Capitol complex.
The sort of incitement conducted by the planners of numerous so-called Stop the Steal rallies conducted in Washington, D.C., and state capitals across the country in the lead-up to the insurrection amount to what scholars call “stochastic terrorism.” It’s the kind that takes place when a person of influence in a particular community either calls for violence or suggests that a grievance worthy of a violent response has taken place—like, say, the false claim that a presidential election was stolen from the rightful winner—in the hope that the more unstable or gullible of their followers may read such rhetoric as a prompt to conduct violence.
So it is hardly surprising that the North Carolina man brought into custody today for threatening to blow up the Capitol complex with a bomb he claimed to have in the truck he parked in front of the Library of Congress, appears to have taken part in several so-called Stop the Steal rallies, according to Jared Holt of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Those were the rallies of Trump supporters who were convinced by the former president’s lie that the result of the 2020 election was somehow illegitimate.
“The revolution is on, it’s here, it’s today,” the suspect said in a Facebook livestream this morning, demanding that Joe Biden resign the presidency.
After the would-be bomber began livestreaming his threat-making as he ranted from his truck, Facebook shut down his account, but not before Holt had a look at his social media, where the suspect posted about his participation in the rallies organized by far-right operative Ali Alexander and promoted by former White House aide Steve Bannon on the latter’s “War Room” podcast.
As we’ve been saying for a while at Right Wing Watch, Jan. 6 looked like a beta test for future violence to be directed at institutions of the U.S. government. Since then, we learned from the House select committee studying the insurrection that the insurrectionists of Jan. 6 came quite close to bagging their desired quarry, namely then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Which makes it all the more distressing that in explaining the suspect’s actions today, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger seemed to chalk up the bomb threat to recent personal losses experienced by the threat-maker, especially the death of his mother. We suggest that the Capitol Police Department, which lost one officer to assault and, together with D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, four to post-insurrection suicide, look more deeply at the suspect’s motivation and the influencers whose cause he took up.