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FBI arrests extremist Oath Keepers' leader

January 13, 2022

Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, has been charged alongside 10 others with seditious conspiracy during the insurrection at the US Capitol building a year ago.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes
Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers group in 2009Image: Jim Urquhart/REUTERS

Elmer Stewart Rhodes was arrested on Thursday and charged with seditious conspiracy for his part in the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Rhodes is the founder and leader of Oath Keepers, an extremist group and anti-government militia. In all, more than a dozen other members of the group have also been charged with seditious conspiracy and other crimes, making it the largest conspiracy case federal authorities have brought in connection with the riot at the Capitol.

 The arrest of Rhodes and 10 others over more serious charges marked an escalation in law enforcement's investigation into the attack on Congress.

Although Rhodes did not enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, he is accused of putting into motion the violent mob that rushed into the building, threatening staff and lawmakers, and damaging property.

Dozens of security officers were injured in the attack, and one of the rioters was shot dead by a policeman when she attempted to break through a barricade.

Rhodes and his group had promoted the conspiracy theory that the election of President Joe Biden had been unlawful, and the idea that supporters of former President Donald Trump should try to stop Congress from verifying Biden's victory. 

US House panel subpoenas tech giants

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives committee continued its probe into the January 6 attack on Thursday, issuing subpoenas to big tech giants such as Facebook parent Meta, Alphabet, Twitter, and Reddit.

The committee demanded records from the companies relating to their role in allegedly spreading misinformation about the 2020 presidential election and promoting domestic violent extremism on their platforms in the lead-up to the insurrection.

"Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement.

"It's disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions," he said.

es, as/sms ,wd (AP, Reuters)