- Boogaloo Bois members planned to attack Washington, DC, landmarks before Joe Biden’s inauguration.
- “Operation Stormbreaker” was detailed in police and FBI memos leaked following a ransomware hack.
- The memos show law enforcement remained on high alert, though the extremists’ plans were scrapped.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Newly leaked intelligence memos demonstrate how concerned law enforcement in Washington, DC, was about the Boogaloo Bois’ – a right-wing militia group seeking to incite a second Civil War – plans for violence ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The plans, called “Operation Stormbreaker,” involved targeting landmarks, government buildings, power plants, and other civic institutions in DC on January 19, the memos show.
Members of the Boogaloo movement and QAnon adherents called the date “National Popcorn Day,” when they planned to follow up the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol with another wave of violence.
Intelligence memos detailing the Boogaloo movement’s plans were prepared by the DC Metropolitan Police Department Intelligence Division and include notes from the FBI. Babuk, a ransomware hacking group, released the memos Thursday in a cache of what it claims are 250 GB of data stolen from MPD.
The FBI declined to comment. MPD didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment, but has commented on other leaked documents and confirmed their veracity.
Alex Friedfeld, a researcher specializing in far-right movements for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism and a former New York Police Department terrorism intelligence analyst, reviewed portions of a memo and told Insider it resembled a legitimate police intelligence report.
The cache of files includes several memos that show Boogaloo members planned a schedule, priority list, and communications strategy for attacking DC buildings and landmarks. An FBI memo issued on January 18 and included in the leak shows a map of targets it says originated from a Boogaloo chat group.
The plan appears to have been scrapped ahead of the scheduled attacks. But the memos show the FBI and MPD remained concerned that information circulating about the plan online still might have resulted in attacks against the White House, the US Treasury, the World Bank, the Lincoln Memorial, and other DC landmarks.
Members of the movement are preparing for Civil War
The files show the degree to which the FBI and MPD were concerned about right-wing extremist violence in the city following the January 6 insurrection, where hundreds of people stormed the Capitol building after then-President Donald Trump falsely said the 2020 election results were falsified and Congress should reject them.
The Boogaloo refers to a loosely organized extremist movement that anticipates a second Civil War that will tear the United States asunder.
Some seek to actively incite such a war, while other members are more passive. Friedfeld said the number of supporters who participate in in-person activities is “probably in the hundreds, maybe low thousands.” After Facebook banned the movement from its platform, where some groups had around 10,000 members, its online presence became scattered among online communities with up to a few hundred members each, Fairfield said.
Unlike many other right-wing extremist groups, Boogaloo members are not typically supportive of Trump and did not have a major presence at the Capitol on January 6.
Members of the group “just liked the chaos” of the riot, Friedfeld said.
“They saw the anger, they saw this desire by ordinary Americans to use violence to achieve political objectives, and thought, ‘this is a Trojan horse that we can piggyback on to push the civil war along,”” Friedfeld told Insider.
As far back as November, members of the Boogaloo movement had planned protests around the country for January 17. Members of the group anticipated high tension throughout the country regardless of who was ultimately elected president, and they sought to exploit it, Friedfeld said.
Planned protests were curtailed following the January 6 insurrection as extremist groups worried about crackdowns from law enforcement, according to Friedfeld, and they were ultimately sparsely attended.
“A lot of these movements were split in the wake of January 6. You had a large cohort that believed that now is not the time for protesting, that actually it was going to be false-flag operations or traps,” Friedfeld said. “So a lot of militia leaders were encouraging followers not to attend any protests.”
An intelligence memo dated January 20 and included in the cached of leaked documents said there was only a “minor skirmish” between “Boogaloos and BLM activists,” but that it was “nothing significant.”
Boogaloo Bois planned violence in the wake of the Capitol riot
Boogaloo members discussed their plans on a website called Tree of Liberty, which has repeatedly been taken offline as web services companies refuse to host it. A January 17 intelligence memo says the website included posts saying its members should attack Jews, who they described as “lizards,” while DC law enforcement was busy with the Capitol lockdown.
Posts on the site also described Ashli Babbitt, a QAnon adherent killed by police during the insurrection, as “the first martyr of their modern movement,” according to the memo.
The site also had announced it would be locked for the next seven days, with an announcement stating, “I don’t need to tell you why, buckle up, God speed,” the January 17 memo says.
A later intelligence memo, dated January 19, says that the FBI’s Kansas field office would lead an investigation into the Boogaloo Bois’ target map. A representative for the field office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Another memo, dated January 20, said that the administrator of the Telegram channel where the map circulated was “a right-wing extremist located in Charlotte, NC.” A representative for the Charlotte FBI field office directed Insider to the Washington, DC field office, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Members of the Boogaloo Bois were inspired by the violence on January 6 and sought to replicate the chaos, according to Friedfeld.
“The Boogaloo Bois, after the insurrection, looked at it and thought, ‘Why wasn’t that us? That could be us. That should have been us,” Friedfeld said.
The intelligence memos also reference details about the activities of other extremist groups in the district ahead of Biden’s inauguration. While the Capitol was on high alert in anticipation of violence, the day was largely quiet.
The Justice Department has so far publicly charged nearly 500 people in connection with the January 6 insurrection, including dozens of reported members of extremist groups.
Members of the Boogaloo Bois have maintained a low profile since Biden’s inauguration and since Attorney General Merrick Garland has vowed to address domestic extremism. One person with ties to the group has pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a riot in Louisville, Kentucky. Several other members pleaded guilty to a scheme involving training with and attempting to sell weapons to Hamas, the extremist group currently exchanging fire with Israel.