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Authorities Track Down Members Of Capitol Mob After They Return Home

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

Well, we're still learning more detail about last week's deadly riot at the Capitol. Law enforcement is now working to identify those involved and make more arrests. And for more, we're joined by NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre. And, Greg, let's start with the ongoing fallout from this riot. Where do things stand?

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Well, we're at about 90 arrests so far. A lot of these are just for curfew violations, but around 25 or so are on more serious federal charges. Very few people on the federal charges were arrested at the scene. So authorities have been tracking them down as far away as Arkansas and Florida and Texas as they return to their homes. Now, the rioters, mostly white men, they left many clues, the video and photos that they posted of themselves while they were at the Capitol or afterwards. And many of them did not seem to fear COVID, so they're easily to - they could easily be recognized without face masks.

MOSLEY: Well, as you said, there's so much video and so many photos online. A lot of private researchers have been looking into those involved. What have those investigators found?

MYRE: Yeah, there's been some quite striking forensic work, and one person I'd like to mention in particular is a guy named John Scott-Railton from Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Now, he's focused on individuals who seem to have a real purpose amid the mob. And two guys he looked at in particular were holding these plastic handcuffs, suggesting they wanted to detain people at the riot. One has been identified as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. The other man disguised himself from head to toe in black camouflage. But crowdsourcing footage found him earlier in the day at a Washington hotel in the very same gear but with his face uncovered. So he was then tracked down via his social media posts in the past. Here's John Scott-Railton.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON: Some of the pictures were pretty disturbing, including a shot of him holding a short-barrelled shotgun and mugging in front of a television showing President Trump. And ultimately, there was some very sharp-eyed people on Twitter who really helped surface that identity.

MYRE: And both of these men who had the plastic handcuffs were arrested on Sunday, one in Texas, the other in Tennessee.

MOSLEY: OK. So, you know, everyone's thinking about Inauguration Day. Looking ahead, what should we actually expect between now and Inauguration Day on January 20?

MYRE: Well, online, this far-right ecosystem is talking about more rallies, possibly armed rallies in Washington as soon as this Sunday and going through Inauguration Day on the 20 next week. Now, I spoke with Jen Golbeck. She's a professor at the University of Maryland and follows this online chatter. She thinks large rallies are unlikely. They'll probably be stopped by authorities, but she is very worried about a few armed individuals.

JEN GOLBECK: It's easier to protect against a big group like that if you come prepared than a few individuals who are really committed to doing violence and who can't be deterred. That is language that I'm seeing a lot of, not from thousands of people but from dozens of them.

MYRE: And she says big, obvious government targets in D.C. are not the only places she worries about. Other potential targets would be, like, state capitals. With the shutdown of the president's social media activity in some places, she worries about Silicon Valley and media companies. Going into last week's events, groups circulated maps that specifically marked many of the media organizations in Washington.

MOSLEY: That's NPR's Greg Myre. As always, thank you so much.

MYRE: My pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF OLDTWIG FEAT. LIME KAIN'S "DUNES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.