KEY POINTS

  • A French cryptocurrency account sent Bitcoin payments to right-wing activists a month before the riot
  • The foreign account sent $500,000 payments to 22 different virtual wallets
  • The investigation is being treated as "counterterrorism"

A large amount of bitcoins may have funded the violent rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. This alarming possibility comes after researchers found evidence of numerous bitcoin transfers a month before the siege. 

On Dec. 8, a French cryptocurrency account transferred 28.15 bitcoins, or more than $500,000, to 22 different virtual accounts belonging to prominent right-wing activists and Trump supporters, according to evidence found by researchers at the software company Chainalysis. 

Right-wing organizations and personalities, including VDARE, the Daily Stormer and Nick Fuentes, received significant donations that researchers believe were meant to bolster their far-right causes. 

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the United States have begun investigating whether the individuals who participated in the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6 received funding from the foreign account. 

On Tuesday, acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said at a press conference that the matter is being investigated with “counterterrorism and counterintelligence” efforts. 

Dozens of people who participated in the insurrection last week were on a terrorist watch list. Some of the attendees are suspected white supremacists whose names are in the Terrorist Screening Database, which is the central terrorist watch list of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, sources familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post on Thursday. 

TSDB lists individuals that U.S. investigators have flagged as potential dangerous to national security. The watch list is separate from the federal “no-fly” list, which is also part of the Terrorist Screening Database, a contraversial post-9/11 program that prevents those who “may pose a threat to civil aviation or national security” from boarding a commercial aircraft. In short, people on TSDB's database aren't automatically blocked from boarding planes. 

And those on the FBI watch list  aren't monitored around the clock. However, the list does inform various agencies, including the Border Patrol and state police departments.

It remains unclear whether the dozens of individuals recently arrested for their involvement in the Capitol siege are included on the terrorist watch list. For security reasons, the U.S. government neither confirms nor denies someone's watch list status.

“The U.S. Government is committed to protecting the United States from terrorist threats and attacks and seeks to do this in a manner that protects the freedoms, privacy and civil rights and liberties of U.S. persons and other individuals with rights under U.S. law,” an official told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

The assault on the US Capitol also became a superspreader event, say lawmakers The assault on the US Capitol also became a superspreader event, say lawmakers Photo: AFP / Joseph Prezioso