Law enforcement was on high alert Thursday around the U.S. Capitol after intelligence uncovered a possible plot by a militia group to storm the iconic building again, two months after a crowd of Donald Trump supporters smashed windows and doors to try to stop the certification of now-President Joe Biden’s victory.
The threat appears to be related to a far-right fantasy theory, promoted primarily by QAnon supporters, that former President Trump will return to power on March 4 and that thousands will flock to Washington DC to try to oust Democrats from office. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to January 20.
Authorities detected Internet exchanges between members of Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, about possible plots against the Capitol on Thursday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. Members of Three Percenters were among the extremists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Word of the threat came as Capitol Police and other security agencies were being criticized in congressional hearings for their failed response to the Jan. 6 riots. Police were ill-prepared for the violent Trump supporters and even National Guard reinforcements took hours to arrive. By then, the mob had broken out and roamed the halls for hours.
The guard in charge of security at the legislative palace warned in a statement that it “is aware of and prepared for any potential threats to members of Congress or the Capitol complex.
Lawmakers, congressional staff and law enforcement authorities are still on edge after the January 6 attack, although security around the Capitol remains at an unprecedented level.