Authored by Bennett Clifford and Jon Lewis
On the one-year anniversary of January 6, 2021, this report takes stock of the Capitol Siege’s impacts on domestic violent extremism in America, and the U.S. federal government’s efforts to respond to the threat over the past year. It analyzes the demographic and geographic backgrounds of the 704 individuals charged federally for their alleged roles in the Capitol Siege. The report finds that:
- Existing evidence shows limited correlation between an individual’s planning and coordination with domestic violent extremist groups prior to January 6th and their alleged participation in violent activities on January 6th. Examining the “spontaneous clusters”—individual siege participants who coordinated with others during the breach of the Capitol and jointly conducted violence—is vitally important to understand the nature of the violence at the Capitol and the potential for similar events in the future.
- Federal prosecutors allege that two domestic violent extremist networks were most responsible for mobilizing their followers to the Capitol on January 6th: the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. These groups have faced the bulk of the federal law enforcement pressure in the year following the Siege, with the varying degrees of decentralization in their leadership impacting 2021 mobilization.
- Since January 2021, the U.S. government has made massive changes to its domestic counterterrorism architecture at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. In 2021, each major agency tasked with counterterrorism has adopted new policies and guidelines to address domestic violent extremism, in response to a first-of-its-kind push from the White House to develop a national strategy to counter domestic terrorism. This report assesses that countering domestic violent extremist groups after the Capitol Siege will require continued innovations in categorizing and analyzing groups and actors, as well as coordinating information sharing between federal, state, local, and non-governmental authorities.