The FBI confirmed Tuesday it was considering adding individuals linked to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to a no-fly list ahead of the presidential inauguration planned in Washington, D.C., next week.
Speaking at a press conference in D.C., FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono described how his agents, analysts and all the other FBI personnel in his office and around the country are working to scrub through video, interview witnesses and identify individuals to arrest following the violence that unfolded in nation’s capital on Jan. 6.
He said the FBI is actively gathering intelligence with law enforcement partners working in conjunction with Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin’s office in D.C. to develop a picture of what happened that day.
“As for the no-fly list, we look at all tools and techniques we can possibly use within the FBI and that’s something that we are actively looking at,” D’Antuono added, responding to a reporter’s question about the list without elaborating.
It was the first time an FBI official publicly acknowledged the agency was weighing whether to add D.C. rioters to the no-fly list, which is maintained by the bureau and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, an FBI spokesperson confirmed that the FBI “will continue to nominate predicated subjects to the federal terrorism watchlist, as appropriate, in accordance with existing laws and policies.” The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) will continue to evaluate all nominations to the watchlist to ensure they meet the required criteria for watchlisting.
“If an individual is deemed to be an immediate threat to other airline passengers or to the aircraft, the agencies and local law enforcement at the airport have jurisdiction to detain or arrest the individual, which would effectively prevent them from flying,” the statement added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday called on the FBI and TSA to add individuals who entered the U.S. Capitol building to the no-fly list.
“We are concerned about these people getting back on airplanes and doing more violence,” he said at a press conference in New York City.
In a statement released Monday, the TSA said it remains on high alert following the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and continues to employ “multiple layers of security that are both seen and unseen.”
Travelers will notice additional law enforcement and canine presence at three airports in the Washington, D.C., area — Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, TSA spokesman R. Carter Langston said.
The TSA said individuals already on the no-fly list will not be issued a boarding pass and are not allowed to fly.
Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation Committee, also called on FAA Administrator Steve Dickson on Monday to “help protect the safety of airline crews and passengers amid civil unrest in the Nation’s capital, and to limit the chance that commercial flights are used as a means of mass transportation to Washington, D.C. for further violence in connection with the inauguration.”
A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declined to comment to Fox News about the no-fly list, referring all questions to the FBI and TSA.
Dickson also made a recent statement about unruly passenger behavior and flight security, as videos circulated online purportedly showing Trump supporters being removed from flights after the D.C. riot.
“As a former airline captain, I can attest from first-hand experience that the cabin crew’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all passengers. I expect all passengers to follow crew member instructions, which are in place for their safety and the safety of flight,” he said.
Some media reports said passengers who already cleared TSA checkpoints and boarded flights were removed by the airline before takeoff for allegedly violating policies requiring masks during the coronavirus pandemic and alcohol restrictions.
The FAA monitors and tracks all commercial passenger flights in real time, and reporting mechanisms are in place for crew members to identify any number of safety and security concerns that may arise in flight, which includes unruly passenger behavior, which can distract, disrupt and threaten crew members’ ability to conduct their key safety functions, Dickson said.
The FAA “will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time,” he added. Penalties for passengers who interfere with, physically assault or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft already face fines of up to $35,000 and imprisonment.
In the first six days since the D.C. riot, the FBI has opened more than 160 case files, which D’Antuono described as “just the tip of the iceberg” as the bureau continues its “24/7, full-bar investigation” into what happened.
The FBI has received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media after its initial calls for tips, photos and video.
Sherwin detailed how the search for suspects spans across the country. He said the D.C. District Attorney’s office initially looked for the simplest charge to file as quickly as possible – the majority of which were misdemeanor trespassing cases, in addition to felony assault and battery and possession of weapons charges. Prosecutors continue to pursue indictments for more significant felony cases, from civil disorder to the possession of destructive devices to possession of semi-automatic weapons that are illegal in the district.
“I want to clarify a misconception: This is only the beginning,” Sherwin said. “After these criminal charges are filed via criminal complaint that allows us – that allows law enforcement across the United States to arrest people from Dallas to Arkansas to Nashville to Cleveland to Jacksonville. That’s what happened over the past several days.”
“Regardless of whether it was just a trespass in the Capitol, or if someone planted a pipe bomb, you will be charged and you will be found,” he added. In addition to its effort to identify those who breached the Capitol building, the FBI continues to search for a suspect or suspects responsible for placing pipe bombs at the Republican and Democratic national committee offices in D.C. on Jan. 6.
As law enforcement swept the area amid the explosive threat, officers found a pick-up truck loaded with guns as well as gasoline-filled Mason jars and other supplies to create at least 11 Molotov cocktails parked in front of the Capitol.
A D.C. grand jury on Tuesday indicted a suspect, a man from Alabama who owned the truck, on 17 weapons-related charges, the most serious indictment to date in connection to the unrest that day.
Sherwin said prosecutors continue to gather evidence showing officers engaged in open-handed combat with some people inside the Capitol and tear gas was used on Capitol police and federal officers as well as against some rioters. He said prosecutors have been assigned to strike forces focusing on sedition charges as well as assaults against officers and members of the media.