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Capitol riots prosecutor suggests some will be charged with sedition and 11 Molotov cocktail bombs were altered to ‘act like napalm’

Justice Department has so far not pursued sedition charges against any of the 400 suspects

Evidence gathered during the Justice Department’s investigation into the 6 January storming of the US Capitol could support sedition charges against the rioters, a former prosecutor has said.

Mar 22, 2021: Hundreds of people have now been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, and the former top prosecutor in the case is opening up about the serious charges that some of them could face. NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams reports for TODAY.

Michael Sherwin, who led the probe as acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, told CBS News that while none of the 400 people arrested over the riots has yet been charged with sedition, there is a mounting body of evidence to support such charges.

“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”

The former prosecutor said the investigation was still looking into the issue of Donald Trump’s culpability for the riots, and said “maybe” the former president was responsible.

“It’s unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to DC on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?” he said.

The Justice Department has so far charged the suspects from 6 January under various sections of the law including trespass and assaulting officers. Mr Sherwin said about 10 per cent of the cases are “more complex conspiracy cases” where the prosecutors have evidence that individuals from right militia groups such as the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys did come to the Capitol with a “plan”.

He added that the nature of their plan is unclear at the moment.

Elaborating on the scale of the threat on the day of the riots, Mr Sherwin said that one of the accused, Lonnie Coffman, 70, stands accused of carrying 11 Molotov cocktail bombs which were filled with melted Styrofoam and gasoline that makes them act like napalm once ignited.

“We found ammunition in his vehicle. And also, in the bed of the vehicle were found 11 Molotov cocktails. They were filled with gasoline and Styrofoam. He put Styrofoam in those, according to the ATF, because when you throw those, when they explode, the Styrofoam will stick to you and act like napalm,” he said.

“What makes this case so monumental, there are hundreds of defendants in a limited area, dispersing,” Mr Sherwin said. “And a variety of crimes being investigated, everything from murder to assaults to theft of government property, the theft of art.”

The department rarely deploys charges of sedition, the last time being in 2010 when they accused members of a Michigan militia of plotting to provoke an armed conflict with the government. They were later acquitted.

Dismissing the charges against the five members of the militia, the court said that the prosecutors failed to prove that the group had concrete plans to attack anyone.

The sedition charges are such a rarity that prior to the 2010 case, the Justice Department had brought seditious conspiracy only twice since 1993, reported Lawfare. In 2003, the charges were brought against two individuals — Jeffrey Battle and Patrice Lumumba Ford — for their links to al-Qaeda. The pair was awarded 18 years in prison.

And in 1993, the Justice Department had booked Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman along with nine others on charges of seditious conspiracy for their role in the World Trade Center bombing and the related spree of planned attacks across New York. The bombing had killed six people and more than 1,000 were injured. Abdel-Rahman was sentenced to life in prison along with Ramzi Youssef.


Published by amongthefray

News with a historical perspective. Fighting against misinformation, hate, and revisionist history.

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