The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a probe to find out if any foreign actors, including governments and groups, funded the rioters who attacked the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. on January 6, according to a news report published on Sunday.
The NBC News report, which cited a former and current FBI official, said the agency “is examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups in the alt-right before the riot”.
The officials told NBC News that tose payments were documented and posted online last week by a company that analyses cryptocurrency transfers.
Last week, a joint warning issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other security agencies said that since the riot staged by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition”.
The current FBI official told NBC News that the agency did not necessarily suspect Russian involvement in the bitcoin transfers, which appear to have been made by a French computer programmer who died by suicide on December 8, 2020 after triggering the transfers.
The FBI and the DHS are yet to comment on the NBC News report, which comes as federal law enforcement are trying to track down and charge members of the mob involved in the January 6 riots.
Last week Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney for D.C., had said that officials were treating the investigation “just like a significant international counterterrorism or counterintelligence operation”.
The attack on the Capitol building on January 6 took place while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the electoral college votes electing Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.
Earlier that day outside the Capitol, Trump addressed his supporters during which called for “patriots” to take a stand against the 2020 election results
Five people, including a police officer, were killed during the riots.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a warning about plans of armed protests from January 16 through January 20 at all the 50 state capitols, and from January 17 through January 20, the day of the inauguration, at the Capitol in Washington D.C.
Up to 25,000 National Guard members have been authorised by the Pentagon for Washington D.C., more than the amount of the troops currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.