Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FBI director: Jan. 6 Capitol attack was domestic terrorism

The FBI views the Jan. 6 Capitol siege as an act of domestic terrorism, director Christopher Wray testified in his opening statement Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The FBI's designation of the attack as domestic terrorism puts the perpetrators "on the same level with ISIS and homegrown violent extremists," Wray said.

  • The attack was led by supporters of former President Trump, as well as members of the Proud Boys and other far-right extremist groups.
  • Wray testified that the FBI has seen no evidence that the attack was organized by "fake Trump supporters" or Antifa, as some allies of the former president have baselessly suggested.

Where it stands: The FBI has arrested more than 270 people as part of a wide-reaching probe that ranges from felony cases "tied to sedition and conspiracy" to assaults on federal and local officers. Over 300 arrests have been made when including agency law enforcement partners.

The big picture: Wray testified that he did not personally see an FBI field office threat report warning that extremists were planning to travel to D.C. to commit violence and "war" until after the Jan. 6 attack, but that it was passed on to the Capitol Police and D.C. Metro Police via a joint terrorism task force.

  • Now-former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund testified last month that a member of the intelligence division at USCP did review the memo, but that "it didn't go any further than that" and that Sund himself had not seen it.

What they're saying: "Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing cross the country for a long time now and it is not going is a way any time soon," Wray said in his opening statement.

  • "When domestic violence extremists use explosive devices, when they attack government facilities and businesses, when they assault law enforcement officers, when they use violence to interfere with the lawful operation of our government, they should expect the FBI to come knocking on their door, no matter where they try to run," he warned.
Go deeper