The US Congress strengthens its security in the face of a new extremist threat

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The US Congress strengthens its security in the face of a new extremist threat




Members of the National Guard in front of the Capitol, the seat of Congress, in Washington, on March 3, 2021


© Eric BARADAT
Members of the National Guard in front of the Capitol, the seat of Congress, in Washington, on March 3, 2021


The United States Congress is under heavy security measures this Thursday, a day after police announced that a “militia” planned to attack it, fueling the memory of the assault on the Capitol by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump on January 6.

Members of the QAnon conspiratorial movement attach symbolic importance to March 4, the date that American presidents were sworn in until 1933.

That group refuses to accept the electoral victory of Democrat Joe Biden and considers that Trump should be installed for a second term this Thursday.

National Guard troops patrol around the Capitol, protected since January 6 by high fences, topped in some areas by barbed wire.

With that deployment, it is difficult to imagine a repeat of what happened two months ago, when thousands of pro-Trump protesters, gathered in front of Congress to hear a speech by the then president, decided to storm the headquarters of Congress.

The House of Representatives brought two scheduled votes to Wednesday night this Thursday, but its president, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, gave her weekly press conference from the building in the morning, and the Senate held its session.

Those responsible for security in Congress advised MPs to use the parking lots and underground corridors to access the Capitol and asked them to take extra precautions.

The fear is the result of information obtained by the US intelligence services.

In late February, an “unidentified group of extremists mentioned the project to take control of the US Capitol,” the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security explained in a statement.

Those extremists, convinced that Biden’s victory in the November presidential elections was due to fraud, deny the legitimacy of the president, who arrived at the White House on January 20.

“We have obtained intelligence information showing a possible plot to break into the Capitol by an identified militia on Thursday, March 4,” Capitol Police said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Trump, who has lived in Florida since leaving Washington, did not react to that news.

– Deserted streets –

During Trump’s presidency, the QAnon movement promoted the idea that the Republican would save the world from an “elite made up of Satanist pedophiles.” The large social networks vetoed the group, which makes it more difficult to follow the activity of its members.

Many of them became discouraged after the failure of the January 6 assault, and their mobilization capacity is uncertain.

The price of rooms at the luxurious Trump International hotel near Congress soared to $ 1,331 a night Wednesday and Thursday, up from $ 476 at the end of March.

But this Thursday morning, the streets were almost deserted, a far cry from the agitation leading up to the day of the attack on Congress.

Five people, including a Capitol police officer, were killed during the assault. More than 270 are being investigated for their involvement in that coup, according to the FBI.

Charged with “incitement to insurrection” for having urged his supporters to march before the headquarters of Congress, Trump was acquitted by the Senate on February 13.

The president never accepted the result of the presidential elections and continues to assure, without proof, that his defeat was the result of massive fraud.

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