Saturday January 23rd, 2021 at 5:21 AM
Following the Capitol riot earlier this month, Congress is taking actions against those it holds responsible. House Democrats have committed to sending the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, and Democratic leaders are pushing new domestic terrorism legislation.
In addition, a federal judge in Arizona last week denied bail to the “QAnon Shaman,” Jacob Chansley (also known as Jake Angeli), because the judge did not have confidence Chansley would appear for trial. Chansley was the most prominent figure in the attack on the Capitol earlier this month, but he was not alone in his zeal to possibly kidnap or kill officials. Decked out in a horned headdress, prosecutors allege there is strong but indirect evidence that Chansley and others may have intended to capture and assassinate members of Congress.
Beyond Chansley, it’s clear that members of Congress had good reason to fear for their lives as people roamed the halls chanting to hang Mike Pence and “Execute the traitors” while carrying zip ties to restrain targets of opportunity. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security both had internal intelligence of violence aimed at lawmakers, and as criminal trials begin, more evidence of intent is likely to surface.
It’s not a long road from zip ties and threatening to kidnap or assassinate officials to the atrocities committed by the terrorist group ISIS. Chansley’s now-suspended Twitter handle was @USAwolfpack, but a better social media nom de guerre might be @TheRealAmericanISIS.
It’s now clear that the most serious threat to U.S. national security is not a foreign terrorist group mounting an operation on our soil, but domestic extremists like Chansley conducting operations against our government.
American ISIS movements are not just a threat to the federal government. Armed terrorists successfully disrupted the Michigan legislature’s functions and planned to kidnap the governor.
What would these extremists have done to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after they kidnapped her? They’d planned to kill police if they had to; does anyone really think they hadn’t considered killing Whitmer too?
Domestic terrorism has been listed as the top threat to the homeland by the FBI since at least 2019. Among all such movements, white supremacist and “other far-right-wing” groups pose the biggest threat. That is, far-left-wing groups pose much less of a threat, so statements trying to make them out to be equivalent with the right-wing threat are simply wrong. Indeed, since 9/11, right-wing groups have killed more Americans than foreign terrorists and accounted for 73% of all incidents of terror.
American ISIS groups are similar to their foreign counterparts in a number of ways. American terrorists are loosely organized around a core set of beliefs, but are not hierarchical and not in agreement on everything. Such groups form around charismatic leaders who feed their followers a sense of grievance, while simultaneously hinting at a return to power, a return to the “real” America. Over and over again, the rhetoric on social media is that this renaissance of the “real” America won’t happen until the so-called illegitimate leaders currently in power are defeated, or worse.
And just like ISIS, this is at its foundation a religious narrative. (To be clear, I consider this a Christianist interpretation, not legitimate Christianity.) The model for the American ISIS is the Apocalypse story of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The “chosen” people, the real patriots, will try to take back power peacefully at first. But