Amid warnings of armed protests in all 50 states and Washington D.C. ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, an area expert says the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a tough task to monitor for potential threats and violence.
“It’s a very difficult task because there are just so many different potential threats to the U.S. Capitol but also the broad net of all 50 state capitals. It’ll be hard to try and monitor every single thing,” Glenn Duerr, Associate Professor of International Studies at Cedarville University told News Center 7′s John Bedell.
However time and preparation have been a positive for investigators monitoring for potential threats.
“There’s really been a lot of time to prepare. It’s actually going to be harder for any group that’s going to try to disrupt Inauguration Day simply because there’s been a lot of time to prepare to mobilize people. Whether that’s police officers, the National Guard, or officers in plain clothes,” Duerr said.
The FBI has a decentralized structure, Duerr said, and monitoring for threats goes through the entire organization, from smaller, regional agencies, through the 56 field offices nationwide, and then up to the headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.
“Ahead of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, the field office in Norfolk, Virginia actually released information that this could be coming, but it wasn’t picked up across the different channels. So I think everyone is going to be on very high alert given what happened earlier this year,” Duerr said.
Another challenge for the agency has been the monitoring of encrypted chat rooms that make it harder for agents to infiltrate and scope for threats.
“(Encrypted chat rooms) have become a place where different people can mobilize for a potential attack and it’s hard to infiltrate those. But again the good news is there’s been a lot of time to prepare,” he said.
Duerr added the FBI uses several resources to continuously monitor known groups who could pose as threats domestically, including in-person infiltrating of groups and monitoring of online and written materials.
“There are a lot of well-known individuals, militia groups, things of that nature. But the question is simply how many people will be at rallies who are unknown to law enforcement and that’s the challenge,” Duerr said.