A former intelligence official, Clint Watts, on Tuesday defended Antifa when discussing the role of various groups in the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five people dead.
His comments came after FBI Director Christopher Wray earlier on Tuesday testified before senators about the bureau’s sweeping investigation into the events of January 6, saying that there wasn’t “any evidence” Antifa staged the riot and framed it on Trump supporters, as a number of Trump allies have alleged. So far, over 300 people have been charged in connection with the attack, which Wray called “domestic terrorism.”
Watts, who has served on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and has been affiliated with other counterterrorism groups, made the comments Tuesday evening on MSNBC.
“There is no equivalency by any measure between Antifa or any political-left terrorism right now and what’s going on on the political right,” said Watts, who is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
During the summer, a number of individuals with ties to Antifa committed acts of violence and vandalism at various Black Lives Matter protests across the country, especially in Portland, Oregon. In recent months, Antifa extremists have carried out vandalism in that city—such as on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, when Antifa members damaged a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building as well as the Democratic Party of Oregon’s headquarters.
“And I always like to remind people when they hear ‘Antifa,’ that means ‘anti-fascist,’ which in response to another,” Watts continued. “So if you have Antifa, you have ‘fa,’ or as in ‘fascist,’ which comes down to white supremacy.”
He went on to say that white supremacy is “the No. 1 issue in the country in terms of domestic terrorism and terrorism overall, and it’s followed up very closely behind by anti-government militia groups,” then citing Wray’s comments about far-right militia groups from that day’s hearing.
“We have not to date seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to Antifa in connection with [January 6],” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “That doesn’t mean we’re not looking, and we’ll continue to look, but at the moment we have not seen that.”
The FBI director also said that the number of FBI domestic terrorism investigations has doubled since he assumed his role in 2017 to over 2,000. During his tenure, the number of probes into white supremacists has tripled, with the number of investigations into anarchist extremists having considerably risen too, Wray mentioned.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Watts tweeted a couple of his thoughts expressing his displeasure with the hearing and the discussion of Antifa.
“Cannot wrap my head around how Senator Grassley can compare what happened on January 6 and years of white supremacist mass shoutings being equivalent in any way to left wing extremism,” he posted at 10:28 a.m.
And, a little over half an hour later, Watts wrote: “Almost an hour into hearing, Antifa has been mentioned many times and there’s not been a single mention of QAnon, Proud Boys, III%er or Oathkeepers – all surfaced in Jan 6 charges. Antifa as of now has not surfaced in Jan 6 & Wray said he’s seen no evidence of it.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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50-Foot Christmas Tree Outside Fox News Set on Fire by 49yr Old Homeless Man
Just before 12:15 am Wednesday morning, an arsonist set fire to the 50-foot tree in front of Fox News’ Midtown headquarters on 6th avenue. The suspect, a 49-year-old with three prior arrests, was quickly caught and taken into custody.
The man has two previous arrests for drug possession and one for public intoxication. The motive is unclear, and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said detectives are looking into whether mental illness was a factor.
“The suspect is identified as 49-year-old Craig Tamanaha, who is homeless, with a last known address in Brooklyn” reports ABC 7 New York. Police said the suspect climbed up “the metal superstructure” underneath the artificial tree and lit papers he had brought with him on fire, then shoved the papers into the tree structure.
He then climbed down and watched from the street level as it burned, and he was spotted by building security who pointed the man out to police officers posted in nearby Rockefeller Center,” reports ABC.
A lighter was found in his possession, and he has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal nuisance, endangering others, criminal trespass, criminal tampering and disorderly conduct.
Fox says it will rebuild the tree, which took more than 21 hours to assemble and consisted of 10,000 glass ornaments and 100,000 lights.
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