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Nearly 1 in 5 charged in attack on US Capitol were military veterans

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Larry Rendall Brock Jr., an Air Force veteran, is seen inside the Senate Chamber wearing a military-style helmet and tactical vest during the rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Federal prosecutors have alleged that before the attack, Brock posted on Facebook about an impending "Second Civil War." (File photo)

Nearly one in five people charged so far over their alleged involvement in the recent attack on the US legislative compound – Capitol Hill – were military veterans, a report has found.

Of more than 140 indicted so far in the January 6 incident, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate that at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20percent, “have served or are currently serving in the US military,” government-funded National Public Radio (NPR) reported Friday.

The report is based on a compiled list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the attack that followed a massive protest rally in Washington by supporters of last US President Donald Trump.

“To put that number in perspective, only about seven percent of all American adults are military veterans,” noted the report, citing the US Census Bureau.

Among those charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on the congressional compound was identified as US Air Force veteran Larry Rendall Brock, who was photographed in a military-style helmet and tactical vest carrying flex cuffs inside the Capitol.

Brock posted on his Facebook page that he was preparing for a "Second Civil War," according to documents filed in a federal court, as cited in the NPR report, which further noted that in the weeks following Biden’s presidential victory, he also posted that "we are now under occupation by a hostile governing force."

"I see no distinction between a group of Americans seizing power and governing with complete disregard to the Constitution and an invading force of Chinese communists accomplishing the same objective," Brock wrote at the time.

He concluded his post with a reference to the oath taken by members of the military: "Against all enemies foreign and domestic."

According to the report, a number of military veterans who stormed the Capitol are still serving in some capacity, including 29-year-old Jacob Fracker, who was an infantry rifleman in the Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan twice, and now serves in the Virginia National Guard, “though he was not among the service members deployed to Washington ahead of the inauguration.”

Fracker is also a police officer in the town of Rocky Mount in Virginia, the report added, noting that he was accompanied during the intrusion into the Capitol by “his colleague from the Rocky Mount Police Department, Thomas Robertson, 47, who is an Army veteran also facing charges.”

Federal prosecutors, NPR added, “have also alleged that multiple members of the right-wing extremist group the Oath Keepers took part in the "incursion" at the Capitol,” noting that “the group has been known to target and recruit active-duty members of the military and veterans, in part for their specialized skills.”

Also charged in connection to the storming of the Capitol were Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and alleged leader among the Oath Keepers, as well as Marine Corps veteran Donovan Ray Crowl, both of whom have been indicted with “conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote, among other alleged crimes.”

Extremism within US military prevalent

This is while nearly one-third of active duty US troops said they had "personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months," according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Military Times and Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

According to the poll, US service members said they had seen "swastikas being drawn on service members' cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals."

The NPR report then pointed out that at least one individual charged for involvement in the assault on the Capitol allegedly embraced that extremist ideology, identifying him as 30-year-old Navy contractor Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, who has worked at a naval weapons station with a secret security clearance.

He is also an Army Reserve sergeant in the 174th Infantry Brigade and an "avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer," according to court documents.

The report further cited experts as saying that the US military has not done enough to crack down on extremism in its ranks. It also cited “a senior defense official” as noting that there were 68 notifications of investigations by the FBI last year of former and current military members pertaining to domestic extremism.

In 2019, federal prosecutors said that Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson had planned a series of violent attacks against liberal politicians in the US, and was “an avowed white nationalist for decades.” He eventually pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges.

Moreover, Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building that killed 168 people, was also a US Army veteran who served during the first American military occupation of Iraq in its campaign to foil the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait during the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein, who had also waged an 8-year war on Iran a decade earlier – ironically with wholehearted support from the US and Kuwait.

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