Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Leaked documents show police knew the real threat at protests was not “Antifa” but far-right extremists

leave a comment »

It’s unfortunate but true that many police departments were untrustworthy. Ryan Deveraux reports in the Intercept:

AS PROTESTS AGAINST police violence spread to every state in the U.S. and dramatic images flooded in from cities across the country, President Donald Trump and his attorney general spun an ominous story of opportunistic leftists exploiting a national trauma to sow chaos and disorder. They were the anti-fascists known as “antifa,” and according to the administration they were domestic terrorists who would be policed accordingly.

But while the White House beat the drum for a crackdown on a leaderless movement on the left, law enforcement offices across the country were sharing detailed reports of far-right extremists seeking to attack the protesters and police during the country’s historic demonstrations, a trove of newly leaked documents reveals.

Among the steady stream of threats from the far-right were repeated encounters between law enforcement and heavily armed adherents of the so-called boogaloo movement, which welcomes armed confrontation with cops as means to trigger civil war. With much of the U.S. policing apparatus on the hunt for antifa instigators, those violent aspirations appear to have materialized in a string of targeted attacks in California that left a federal protective services officer and a sheriff’s deputy dead and several other law enforcement officials wounded.

The cache of law enforcement materials was recently hacked and posted online under the title “BlueLeaks,” providing an unprecedented look at the communications between state, local, and federal law enforcement in the face of the nationwide protests. In an analysis of nearly 300 documents that reference “antifa,” The Intercept found repeated instances of antifa and left-wing protesting activities cast in cartoonishly grim terms alongside more substantive reports of lethal right-wing violence and threats that have received scant mention from top Trump administration officials.

“Throughout the documents you see counterterrorism agencies using extremism so broadly as to mean virtually anything that encompasses dissent,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told The Intercept. “There are instances in which people engaging in white supremacist violence get the benefit of the doubt as potential lone offenders, while people of color and those who dissent against government injustice are smeared as threats with guilt by association.”

Michael German, a former FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism and current fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the materials were rife with examples of law enforcement intelligence being politicized in ways that endangered both protesters and police alike. “Terrorism is distinguished from other violence by its political nature and, as a result, counterterrorism is often highly politicized as well,” German told The Intercept. “Here we’re seeing where this politicization of counterterrorism is being reflected in intelligence documents that are going out and are intended to inform state and local law enforcement on the ground.” He added: “Overall, what you see is a strange sensationalization of the antifa threats — and that doesn’t exist when looking at the boogaloo documents.”

German argued that the impulse to paint both sides of the political spectrum with the same brush, despite the fact that only the far right is actively killing people, is among the most dangerous features of modern American law enforcement. In his review of the documents produced in response to the recent protests, German said purported “threats” from antifa were routinely overblown, often framed vandalism as terrorism and were typically absent of concrete evidence of serious criminal activity.

“It’s chatter, it’s ‘intelligence reporting suggests,’” he said. On June 2, for example, the Department of Homeland Security circulated a tweet to law enforcement agencies across the country reporting that antifa was stashing bricks to “fuel protests.” The intelligence made its way to a law enforcement fusion center in Maine. Last week, Mainer magazine tracked down the original source of the tweet: a far-right, pro-Trump biker who goes by the name “the Wolfman,” who claimed that Facebook kept deleting his brick-planting evidence “because they are BLM supporters.”

Even if antifa were staging bricks, German said, “you have these heavily armed groups right there, who have a much more direct and lengthy history of violence than anything antifa or anarchist-involved does.” Unlike the information circulated about antifa, much of the intelligence reporting in the BlueLeaks documents regarding threats from the far right is tightly focused on specific events, German noted. “That’s the way it should be,” he said. Far-right extremists have been targeting and killing law enforcement, not to mention members of the general public, for generations, German explained, and in fact, the government’s own documents show that those ideas were percolating in extremist corners of the right at the same time that Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr were preparing to crack down on the left.

While antifa has been a right-wing boogeyman for years, the administration’s rhetoric ramped up in late May, with Trump tweeting that he would designate the movement as a terrorist organization. Barr followed the tweet with a Department of Justice statement reporting that federal investigators would work to “identify criminal organizers and instigators” who were “hijacking” the protests, and warning that “the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

In the weeks since Barr’s statement was issued, The Intercept has published accounts of FBI agents in multiple states targeting individuals with a perceived relationship to antifa for interviews and potential informant work. Meanwhile, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, an official fundraising arm of the president, has been running campaign ads urging donors to send money to show support for the administration’s antifa enforcement campaign.

Yet the leaked materials show that on May 29, two days before Trump tweeted that antifa would be labeled a terrorist organization and Barr issued his DOJ statement, the president’s own DHS analysts issued an open source intelligence report detailing how a white supremacist channel on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, was encouraging followers to capitalize on the unrest by targeting the police with Molotov cocktails and firearms.

“The use of firearms greatly influences the scale and intensity of these events,” a source in the group, titled “National Accelerationist Revival,” wrote on May 27, advising followers to break police lines “with cocktails, chainsaws, and firearms.” At the time, DHS reported, the group included more than 3,400 subscribers. “Looting and shoplifting are both cool and whites should be doing it way more,” the source went on. “When the laws no longer benefit you, break them for personal gain. If you don’t feel like buying something, steal it. If you don’t feel like driving slow, drive fast. If you don’t like someone, hurt them.”

“We ought to revel in the destruction of the police state,” they wrote. “It is just as necessary to break down the police state and the system of control as it is to spread racial hatred.”

In a separate document disseminated the following day, DHS warned its workforce that the nation’s “period of darkness” would soon worsen, as “violent protest movements” grew. Domestic extremists would capitalize on the unrest to “take over government facilities and attack law enforcement,” DHS predicted, with protests following police killings of civilians “posing a high risk of escalating to both premeditated and random attacks targeting law enforcement officers nationwide.” The document went on to describe how “users of a white supremacist extremist Telegram channel attempted to incite followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”

Among the developments cited in the bulletin was the May 29 assassination of a federal court security guard in Oakland. The alleged perpetrator would later be identified as Steven Carrillo, a 32-year-old sergeant in an elite Air Force security unit. According to authorities, Carrillo would go on to ambush and kill a sheriff’s deputy and wound several others in a second targeted attack days later. In court filings last month, the FBI reported that the airman had a ballistics vest bearing a boogaloo patch. Following a shootout with police, Carrillo reportedly used his own blood to scrawl phrases associated with the movement on the hood of a vehicle he had carjacked.

In the run-up to the initial attack, federal authorities said Carrillo made several comments in a Facebook group with his accused accomplices arguing that the protests were an ideal opportunity to kill law enforcement — whom he referred to as “soup bois,” a reference to the “alphabet soup” of law enforcement titles — and kick off a broader nationwide conflagration. “Go to the riots and support our own cause,” Carrillo reportedly wrote on the morning of the attacks. “Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”

At approximately 9:44 p.m, Carrillo and his accused partner, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., rolled up in a white van outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. The side door of the vehicle slid open and Carrillo opened fire. Fifty-three-year-old David Patrick Underwood was shot dead. His partner was wounded. “Did you see how they fucking fell?” Justus would later recall Carrillo exclaiming, as the van took off into the night.

While Carrillo was on the run in California, the FBI’s Minneapolis office circulated uncorroborated “online discussions” between unidentified individuals indicating that “Antifa wanted to ‘massacre’ National Guard personnel at the Minnesota State Capitol” in an unprecedented vehicle-born explosive attack. In the June 1 report, the bureau’s Minneapolis office noted that the intelligence coming in was based on photos of National Guard vehicles that did not appear to come from Minnesota, that it was the product of an outside office, and that “given current circumstances in the Twin Cities, the FBI Minneapolis Field Office cautions that the source may have potentially provided intelligence to influence recipients.”

That same morning, Trump tweeted a quote from “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade: “I don’t see any indication that there were any white supremist [sic] groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organization. It seems that the first time we saw it in a major way was Occupy Wall Street. It’s the same mindset.” The president endorsed Kilmeade’s assessment, writing in all caps, “TRUE!” Later in the day, Trump appeared in the Rose Garden of the White House to announce that he would mobilize military forces to quash “the violence and restore security and safety in America.” The president was quick to point out the role of “professional anarchists, violent mobs … arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters, Antifa, and others” in creating unrest. “A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero, was shot and killed,” he said, referring to Underwood and the targeted attack in Oakland.

Trump made no mention of groups on the far right. Behind the scenes, however, DHS was acknowledging “media reports” indicating “that neo-Nazi, and other paramilitary far-right groups, are calling for terror attacks during the ongoing unrest throughout the United States.”

“A series of Telegram accounts linked to a wider network of paramilitary far-right extremists have indicated that ongoing disturbances are spreading America’s police forces thin, making this the ideal time to strike with a strategic attack,” the agency reported in a round-up of intelligence reports coming in from around the country, published the following morning. “One account, with thousands of followers and links to several neo-Nazi terror groups like The Base and the Nordic Resistance Movement, called for attacks on critical infrastructure.” The agency noted that Twitter had recently removed a fake antifa account “created by a known white supremacist group” that had issued a call to violence.

“Although the account only had a few hundred followers, it is an example of white supremacists seeking to inflame tensions in the United States,” DHS reported.

According to a distribution list at the bottom of the report, the document was shared with the White House Situation Room, DHS headquarters, federal interagency operations centers, and state and local partners. The Intercept sent detailed lists of questions regarding documents in the BlueLeaks trove to the White House, the Department of Justice, and DHS. None responded. The FBI referred The Intercept to an interview director Christopher Wray gave to Fox News in a late June, in which he appeared to distance the bureau from the more strident antifa rhetoric of Barr and Trump. “Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the bureau said in a statement. “We are not focused on peaceful protests.“

An Antifa Obsession

Despite the apparent stream of intelligence indicating that the far right was looking to use the protests as cover to attack law enforcement and create disorder, the FBI, by June 2, was still uncertain whether the attack in Oakland was linked to the demonstrations. “At this time, the FBI is unable to determine if this incident is related to the civil unrest in the Oakland area,” the bureau noted in a lengthy situation report. Carrillo’s arrest was still four days away.

On the heels of Barr’s antifa statement, the FBI noted that its field offices had been “encouraged to canvass sources for intelligence associated with violent or illegal extremist activity.” The bureau added that “any attempts by law enforcement to arrest individuals” openly carrying guns at protests, as well as increased use of the National Guard, was likely to draw more anti-government militias into the streets. The 16-page FBI report did not mention the boogaloo movement nor any of the many other domestic extremist groups of the American far right, by name. It did, however, highlight antifa and anarchists more than a half dozen times.

n Newark, New Jersey, police and FBI investigators had identified “a probable ‘Antifa’ related individual,” who was arrested for possessing a knife, a hatchet, and a jar of gasoline. Though the man’s charge was unclear, the FBI reported that it had “obtained one of his Facebook posts which contained a video of him at the riots inciting others to steal from the stores while he stood guard.” With the man having described himself as “anti-government and anti-authority,” the FBI reported that its Newark office “believes this profile is consistent with ‘Antifa.’” While agents were investigating the man in Newark, the FBI’s field office in Spokane, Washington, was looking into an “antifa group” reportedly headed through Idaho and on to Minneapolis. In Denver, meanwhile, the FBI was investigating the alleged transfer of “riot supplies” to “antifa members,” and in Philadelphia, authorities were “attempting to confirm if any of the individuals arrested by Philadelphia Police Department have ‘Antifa’ affiliations.”

The portrait the FBI painted of the country was chaotic, with nearly three dozen FBI SWAT teams in various stages of deployment nationwide. The report noted “multiple officer related shootings” in the 12 hours preceding its dissemination, including the killing of a police officer in Las Vegas and an “assailant” who allegedly fired on police officers and a National Guard patrol in Kentucky. Nearly 200 pistols and rifles had been stolen from locations in San Francisco and Albuquerque, New Mexico, the FBI reported; it was unclear by whom.

While a variety of groups had been linked to the unrest, the FBI noted that “much of the violence and vandalism is perpetrated by opportunistic, individual actors acting without specific direction.” Nonetheless, the bureau would “continue to aggressively … seek to corroborate whether or not there is in fact an organized effort to incite violence by either known criminal groups or domestic violent extremists,” which apparently included running down “uncorroborated intelligence about alleged participation of Venezuelan and Nicaraguan socialist groups.” According to the report, with more than 4,000 arrests across the country, the FBI had tagged nearly 200 incidents as “riot related threats” and was in the process of investigating 40 “cases associated with violent protests.”

With Trump hyping antifa hysteria in Washington, D.C., reports of lurking leftists began cropping around the country. In Colorado, a Denver resident reported that they had followed a “suspicious person” into their apartment complex who looked to be attempting to set the building on fire. “Fairly certain he was a member of an Antifa like group,” the resident wrote, adding that there were “two Antifa safe houses on our block.” “I know this because they have been walking past our house telling us they can offer shelter, food, supplies, etc. also they have been hiding on our stoop when Swat drives by and they keep discussing their plans and where they are going. They have a central phone # they are calling to get updates and where they need to go to,” the resident said. “Please nip this shit in the ass. This is the second time in two days we had someone attempt to burn down our apartment building/neighboring buildings. Get these terrorists out of our city please!”

. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

18 July 2020 at 9:11 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.