The FBI is reportedly vetting 25,000 National Guard troops currently deployed to Washington D.C. ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration this Wednesday. Their deployment comes after the breach of the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob earlier this month.
According to military officials, there has been no credible evidence that any threat of extremism exists within the U.S. military. However, American officials say they are conducting a vetting process due to concern about an “insider attack or other threat” from military service members involved in securing Biden’s inauguration.
According to the Associated Press:
Insider threats have been a persistent law enforcement priority in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But in most cases, the threats are from homegrown insurgents radicalized by al-Qaida, the Islamic State group or similar groups. In contrast, the threats against Biden’s inauguration have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups. Many believe Trump’s baseless accusations that the election was stolen from him, a claim that has been refuted by many courts, the Justice Department and Republican officials in key battleground states.
On Sunday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that “officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.” According to the report, McCarthy and other military commanders say that there is no evidence of any threats, and officials said they have not flagged any issues.
”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said.
According to the AP, the vetting is being done in addition to routine reviews for “extremist connections” of soldiers. The process began last week and will be completed by Wednesday.
“The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?” McCarthy said. “We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.”
According to the AP, the FBI’s vetting process involves “running peoples’ names through databases and watchlists maintained by the bureau to see if anything alarming comes up,” which could include involvement in prior investigations or terrorism-related concerns, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security supervisor in Seattle.
The entire National Mall was shut to the public on Friday as a security measure intended to secure the area for the inauguration. The number of troops deployed to secure the Capitol is reportedly at least two and a half times previous deployments, as seen during the Trump and Obama inaugurations.