Speed Reads

'They will find them'

The FBI is still searching for 100s of Capitol rioters 6 months after Jan. 6 insurrection

In the six months since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Biden's electoral victory, the Justice Department has arrested more than 500 participants, secured guilty pleas from more than a dozen — including two members of the Oath Keepers militia who admitted to conspiracy charges — and sentenced one Indiana woman to probation for trespassing in the Capitol. The FBI is still searching for about 300 more rioters and other Jan. 6 suspects, including the person who placed pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic national committees the night before.

The first wave of arrests scooped up "the easy targets," the rioters who filmed themselves, posted triumphant photos to social media, and were captured by news broadcasters breaking into and defiling the Capitol, The Associated Press reports. Friends and family have reported other rioters, and groups of amateur "sedition hunters" have combed through photos and other records to identify harder-to-spot siege participants and passed those tips on to the FBI, but even then federal agents have to obtain proof, sometimes using creative means. 

"Justice Department officials say arresting everyone involved in the insurrection remains a top priority," AP reports, but "the struggle reflects the massive scale of the investigation and the grueling work still ahead for authorities in the face of an increasing effort by some Republican lawmakers to rewrite what happened that day." The New York Times spent six months piecing together the riot from police video and audio and cellphone video, and the resulting 40-minute video investigation clearly shows the mob was violent, less than spontaneous, ignited by well-organized groups that came prepared, and had many frightening near-misses with lawmakers.

The FBI has to hunt down the participants because when sufficient reinforcements finally arrived to help the under-prepared and overwhelmed police forces on Jan. 6, law enforcement agencies focused on clearing the Capitol over arresting insurgents. Still, "they will find them," Robert Anderson Jr., former executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, tells AP. "I don't care how long it takes. If they are looking for them, they will find them."