The insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 has set a precedent in extremist movements that now redirect their strategies

By Jared Holt, Atlantic Council

This report offers analysis of the ways that domestic extremist movements evolved and adapted during the year following the now-infamous insurrection at the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. On that day, supporters of then-President Donald Trump and likeminded members of extremist movements participated in an assault on democracy itself, violently breaking into the US Capitol as Congress attempted to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Though none of the last-minute plot twists that drew expectant crowds to Washington came to bear, the attack resulted in several deaths, hundreds of arrests, and a nation shaken by what transpired that afternoon.

Insurrection at the US Capitol Building
Photo by Blink O'fanaye

Since the attack, US public officials and federal law enforcement have repeatedly identified the need for renewed vigilance in confronting domestic extremism as a leading threat to national security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated in March 2021 that domestic extremist threats posed increased risks, citing the Capitol attack and conspiracy theories as potential motivations for violence. The Biden administration spent its first year in office crafting a policy plan for addressing such threats, including the establishment of the country’s first National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. Meanwhile in Congress, the House established the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

This report focuses on right-wing extremist movements and groups due to their central role in the January 6 attack and their ongoing affront to democratic values, and because public safety, security, and law-enforcement officials agree that they present the most immediate, violent threat to public safety in the United States. Groups identified as far-right and extremist in this report are those that seek to advance agenda items that are based in hate and conspiracy theories, seek to undermine democratic norms and equality, and have records of supporters engaging in violence in pursuit of those ends.

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