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Public Tips Help US Authorities Track Down Capitol Attackers

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US Capitol Attack: More than 725 people have been arrested so far. (file)

Washington:

The FBI is still searching for those who attacked the US Capitol on January 6.

So it’s KE.

The 34-year-old from Washington state is one of several online spies tracking down participants in the attack on Congress.

“We are somewhere between journalists and law enforcement,” said Kay, who declined to use his last name for security reasons. “We are dedicated to finding everyone.”

More than 725 people have been arrested so far for attacks on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump who were seeking to block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

“January 6 broke my heart and I really couldn’t get over it,” Kaye told AFP. “It looked, like, holy.

“To me, the Capitol is – even though I have never been there – a symbol of our democracy,” she said. “And it really matters to me, that we have a healthy, thriving democracy.

“To see the capital attacked like that, and the people inside was terrifying, was just heartbreaking.”

Kay has spent months at his computer keyboard, searching the Internet looking for those involved in the attack on Congress.

Attorney General Merrick Garland thanked members of the public for their help in getting justice for the participants in a speech Wednesday.

“We have received more than 300,000 suggestions from ordinary citizens, who have been our indispensable partners in this effort,” Garland said.

Kay, who has a background in video production, has scoured the thousands of photos of the attack available online and hundreds of hours of video, much of it on social media.

“I found people proudly posting the work they did on January 6th,” he said. “He was proud to be there, and it was completely logical to brag about it online.

“So you find their social media networks, you know their username and find them on all the platforms they’re on.”

‘very satisfactory’

Kay is one of several online detectives working with groups known as Sedition Hunters, Capital Hunters, and Deep State Dogs.

Kay works primarily with Sedition Hunters, which has about 20 members and the support of hundreds of others.

They use geolocation and facial recognition software such as PimEyes, and appeal for information via Twitter.

The group does not publicly identify suspects by name, only by surnames, and rigorously verifies them before publishing them online or sending them to the FBI.

The FBI, like the Attorney General, said the public had helped tremendously in the investigation.

“The FBI encourages the public to continue making suggestions,” an FBI spokeswoman told AFP. “As we’ve seen in dozens of cases so far, tips matter.

“The FBI is working diligently behind the scenes to verify suggestions from the public and to follow all investigative leads to bring these criminals to justice,” she said.

Devora Margolin, a senior research fellow in the program on extremism at George Washington University, said social media played an “outside role” in the January 6 incidents.

“Most of the people who attended these events didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong,” Margolin said. “They were posting online. There was a criminal offense and they documented it.”

Margolin said information obtained online, mostly from social media, was featured in 77 percent of the 704 January 6 criminal cases researched by the program.

“We don’t know how much information has come from civilian spies or tip lines, and how much has been found by the FBI or DOJ itself,” she said.

Aiden Bilyard, 19, was arrested in late November and charged with assault, destroying government property and entering a restricted building.

In its arrest report, the FBI noted that Billiard was identified in open source reporting as #Harvardsweats because he was wearing a gray Harvard sweatshirt on January 6.

Ronald Lohrke, 30, was arrested in Georgia in early December based on photographs published by Sedition Hunters.

Lohrke has been charged with assault, obstruction of law enforcement and unlawful entry.

Kay said the work is “very satisfying,” especially when it leads to an arrest.

“Many of these people are very violent people,” she said. “It means a lot to me, knowing that I helped get these people off the streets.”

(This story has not been edited by Dailynewscatch staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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