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Washington Post: Report says FBI in Norfolk warned extremists were preparing to attack Congress and engage in 'war'

Capitol Breach Arrests
Posted at 2:03 PM, Jan 12, 2021

According to a report in The Washington Post, the FBI had warned that extremists were preparing to come to Washington, attack Congress and engage in “war.”

The report says the warning was issued internally by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk a day before the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The warning directly contradicts statements from the Justice Department and FBI officials that they had no intelligence to suggest a storming of the Capitol.

The Post says the memo described how people had been sharing maps of the Capitol’s tunnels and discussing rallying points to meet up to travel to Washington.

The newspaper reported that the document detailed posts calling for violence, including that “Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Antifa slave soldiers being spilled.”

It also said to “go there ready for war.”

FBI Norfolk said they have no comment.

News 3 talked with Devlin Barrett, one of the Washington Post reporters who broke the story.

“I think the question about 'Who did what?' I think is more of an issue for the folks in Washington, as to, 'Should they have done more with it?'” Barrett said. “When you look at what the [FBI] Norfolk office did, they did everything right as far as we know right now. They saw something alarming, they kicked it up the chain and what was described in that document - the conversation described in that document - ended up being almost exactly what happened the very next day.”

FBI and Justice officials addressed the report and information they received ahead of last week’s attack during a briefing Tuesday, saying they worked quickly to get information out.

“That was a thread on a message board that was not attributable to an individual person,” FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono said of the Norfolk report. “We deal in specifics and facts. That information, when my office received that information, we briefed that within 40 minutes to our law enforcement partners.”

Officials added they're going through more than 100,000 pieces of digital media they received in hopes of finding out who was inside the Capitol.

“We have literally thousands of potential witnesses and a scenario in which we're going to have, I believe, hundreds of criminal cases,” Michael Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said. “Regardless of who the victim was, regardless of who the perpetrator was, we're treating all of these cases equally.”

News 3 Crime Analyst Richard James weighed in on the response to last week’s events.

“It's best to plan for a worst-case scenario and things work out great, than to not plan for a worst-case scenario and things don't work into your benefit, and I believe that's what happened last Wednesday,” James said.

James said one concern is what he calls the “copycat effect” as the investigation into last Wednesday’s events continues.

“There may be some other organizations or groups locally that may want to do the same thing, but don't want to go to Washington, D.C.,” he said.

He added to expect heavy law enforcement presence for Inauguration Day.

“Whether it's local, state or federal, it's going to be all hands on deck,” James said.

The Associated Press has not obtained the document. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Elaine Luria, whose district covers Virginia Beach, parts of Norfolk and the Eastern Shore, sat down with News 3 to react to the recent news. She says a full analysis is needed for investigation into what exactly happened in Washington.