Experts warn that the Capitol attack could intensify terrorist recruiting for years.
After the attack on the Capitol, an ideological jumble of far-right radicals and hate groups exploded under President Trump and claimed new energy. Now their next moves are being discussed.
Defeating the government. Ignition of a Civil War Second. Banishing ethnic minorities, Jews and refugees. Or just sowing havoc in the streets.
An overlapping list of hatreds and ambitions has long been nursed by the ragged camps of far-right groups and white nationalists emboldened under President Trump. But now they have been galvanized by the false accusations of the outgoing president that the victory was stolen from him, and by the violent assault on the Capitol of the nation on his behalf by hundreds of them.
"One group, known for pushing the worst anti-Semitic tropes, commented on Twitter the day after the attack, "Politicians who have cheated, deceived and sold out the American people for decades have been forced to cower in fear and scatter like rats.
The Capitol riots acted as a far-right propaganda coup, and those who track hate groups say that the attack is likely to enter an extremist lexicon with the takeover of an Oregon wildlife preserve by Waco, Ruby Ridge and the Bundy in fueling recruitment and abuse for years to come.
While there have been arrests of hundreds of rioters, chat rooms and messaging apps where celebrations and plans are packed with the far right congregates. The Proud People, Oath Keepers, the Boogaloo campaign and neo-Nazis, an intellectual jumble of hate groups and far-right agitators, are now debating ways to extend their rosters and whether to take to the streets again this weekend and next week to protest the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Some have posted manuals on fighting guerrilla warfare and constructing explosive devices, enraged by their failure to overthrow the presidential election.
It might have been possible to undermine their organization by purging extremist groups from popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, experts claim, but such attempts have driven them into harder-to-track modes of communication, including encrypted apps, making it more difficult to monitor extremist activities.
"Destroying the platforms could lead to more violence," said one of thousands of so-called "patriot" paramilitary organizations, Mike Morris, the Colorado-based member of Three Percent United Patriots. Mr. Morris said he does not advocate violence, but cautioned that on encrypted networks, other groups would find more freedom to plot. Mr. Morris said his organization lost its Facebook account this summer and recently launched MeWe, one of the smaller sites that have attracted far-right denizens.
Since last week, hundreds of new outlets have appeared dedicated to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory that claims Mr. Trump is battling a cabal of Satanists and pedophiles, on secure-messaging apps. In the darker corners of the internet, many militias have found thousands of new followers, such as one Telegram channel run by the Proud Boys, a militant far-right organization that more than doubled its followers to over 34,000 out of 16,000.
People have seen what we can do, they know what's up, they want to do," one message boasted earlier this week on the Proud Boys Telegram channel."
No matter who is in the White House, hate groups have become a hallmark of American life. When Democrats controlled the presidency, they had natural enemies. They have had an ally under Mr. Trump.
The president echoed immigrant demonization and fears of gun seizures and propelled white concerns into the center of America.
After Mr. Trump spoke of "very fine people on both sides" of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a white nationalist fatally drove over a nonviolent counter-protestor with his vehicle, far-right organizations were buoyed. They saw a token of support when Mr. Trump ordered the far-right Proud Boys, during a presidential debate, to "stand back and stand by."
They seized on the opportunities provided by the pandemic and civil unrest again and again last year.
At Black Lives Matter rallies in locations like Louisville and Minneapolis, vigilante groups echoing Mr. Trump's demands for "law and order" showed up armed and outfitted in combat gear. Right-wing demonstrators clashed with left-wing activists in the streets of Portland. Armed organizations and some conservatives rushed to his side after a 17-year-old was charged with fatally shooting two people at a rally in Kenosha, Wis.,
Goaded by Mr. Trump's calls to "liberate" Democratic-run states shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, with some moderate Republicans unhappy with government restrictions on business and public life, far-right factions and rifle-toting extremists forged a common cause. Armed gunmen attacked the state house in Lansing in Michigan, and prosecutors charged 14 individuals, including those connected to an armed group named Wolverine Watchmen, in response to the lockdown measures she instituted, with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Much of this culminated on Jan. 6 at the "Stop the Steal" protest at the nation's Capitol. As thousands of Trump supporters marched up the Mall, white-supremacist gangs, insignia-wearing militia members and far-right Proud Boys were among the adherents.
"In the Second Civil War, luck may be needed," according to federal prosecutors, Larry Rendell Brock Jr., a Texas man charged in connection with the attack, wrote on Facebook in the days before the events in Washington. As prosecutors said, Mr. Brock had aspired to take hostages, and tagged the post with the names of two anti-government parties.
According to Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Dignity First for America, a nonprofit organization that signed a lawsuit over the violence in Charlottesville, at least two prominent activists involved in the 2017 Charlottesville rally were also at the Capitol riots.
One of them was Nicholas J. Fuentes, 22, a far-right agitator whose online diatribes have drawn large followers among college students in favor of white nationalism and threats against Jews and L.G.B.T. individuals. His supporters were seen storming the Capitol, waving flags bearing the logo of his America First organization. In a video, Mr. Fuentes praised the attack for being more blatant than any Black Lives Matter or anti-fascist rally, although it seems that he remained outside.
"We forced a joint session between Congress and the vice president to evacuate because supporters of Trump were banging down and then bursting through the doors successfully," he exclaimed.
Lindsay Schubiner, a program director focusing on fighting white nationalism at the Western States Center, said it was frightening to see the emergence of far-right groups in recent years that pose dangers to people of color and communities of L.G.B.T.Q. She expects terrorist groups to remain a danger to public safety and the democracy of the country for years to come, without significant disruption.
"This is not something that can, at least not quickly or easily, be put back in the bottle," Ms. Schubiner said.
In a joint intelligence bulletin released on Jan. 13, the attack on the Capitol was likely to become "a significant driver of violence for a diverse set of domestic violent extremists," an array of government agencies said. The storming of the building, some analysts said, could fuel a dangerous pushback by extremists who are not afraid to use violence to get their way against the incoming Biden administration and its agenda on gun control, racial justice, public land and other issues.
But they may also be diminished by the response to the Capitol riot. In the midst of a wave of criticism, infighting and legal action, alt-right leaders split after Charlottesville. For their involvement in the protest, two dozen white nationalist leaders and organizations are being sued. Richard Spencer, one of its lead organizers, no longer in the limelight, said he was crippled by legal bills, lost his social media megaphones, and now feels betrayed inside the alt-right movement by his former allies.
The immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack has led to extremist debates over whether to stage another round of violent protests or lie low and wait for the arrests, inquiries and throngs of police and National Guard troops dispatched before the inauguration to defend statehouses and the Capitol.
"A website called the Tree of Liberty proposed just after the November election that armed proponents of the Boogaloo movement, an extremist ideology that aims to overthrow the U.S. government, will carry out a "armed takeover" of Washington and march on all 50 state capitals as a way of expressing political grievances and commemorating a major armed rally a year earlier in Richmond, Va.
But given the security risks, Richmond officials closed the area around the Capitol and placed the building itself on board. The Virginia Civil Defense League, which organized the protest last year, said it would go ahead with a caravan on Monday across Richmond streets in favor of gun rights. Since then, the Tree of Liberty website has been taken offline.
After the riot collapsed, the QAnon faithful who thronged to the Capitol in Washington were forced to change on the fly and Mr. Trump agreed to a power transfer.
Some hold out hope for a miracle to keep Mr. Trump in office. Others are talking about how Mr. Trump was just the beginning of the strategy and a new phase is beginning now.
Some far-right groups say they plan to capitalize on Republican concerns in Washington of Democratic influence.
"Casey Robertson, founder of the Utah paramilitary group United Citizens Alarm, whose armed members shadowed the Black Lives Matter rallies, said, "There has been quite an influx of people who were not really involved, who are becoming more active. "It was cool. This is a disturbing moment.
Ammon Bundy, who once led an armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge and tried to create a network of thousands of anti-government supporters, said he was not involved in the Capitol mob attack and was unaware of what had happened in Washington until he returned to the mountains from a vacation.
Mr. Bundy has centered a great deal of his energies in the past year toward government restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. But after being arrested twice over the summer inside the Idaho State Capitol, he said he has come to believe that the political venues of the nation are not a fruitful place for government power.
Mr. Bundy claims to have grouped almost 50,000 members into local chapters. That may well be hype, but the effort of Mr. Bundy to combat the government has helped him create a Western following.
The assault on the Capitol is now called a mistake by Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, who was arrested in Washington several days before the Capitol attack on charges of carrying illegal ammunition clips and burning a Black Lives Matter banner. But he said that the far-right campaign that Mr. Trump galvanized would outlast his presidency.
Mr. Tarrio said, "I feel like the movement has surpassed the individual." This movement he built that I don't think anyone can stop. They can pretend to be quiet, they can try to be deplatformed, they can only make it louder.
Last week, a mob of angry Donald Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill and clashed with police in violence that left five people. The rioters were attempting to prevent the confirmation of Joe Biden's election victory. They descended on the US Capitol after Trump made a speech to his supporters, imploring them to "fight'' to stop the "steal"' of the election.