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They swore to protect America. Some also joined the riot

January 12, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.2%. 3 min read.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Among the mob of extremists and Trump supporters that invaded the US Capitol last week in a deadly riot were former members of the very institution that is supposed to protect America from invasion: the US military.

(CNN)Among the mob of extremists and Trump supporters that invaded the US Capitol last week in a deadly riot were former members of the very institution that is supposed to protect America from invasion: the US military.

They included 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who'd become infatuated with the QAnon conspiracy theory and on Wednesday was fatally shot by US Capitol Police as the mob tried to force its way toward the House chamber.

And attending the demonstrations that day was Joshua Macias, 42, a six-year Navy veteran from Virginia and co-founder of the group Vets for Trump who had recently been released from jail.

Indeed, mixed in with the motley crew of protesters and rioters on Wednesday was a body-armored band of Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia group intent on stoking civil war that claims to include many law enforcement members and military veterans.

Extremist groups play on veterans and service members' deeply felt sense of patriotism to recruit them, said retired Army Lt. General David Barno, former head of Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan.

that's one thing I know almost all veterans miss when they leave the military," Barno said.

There is scant data available on why, how and how often veterans are radicalized to believe extreme views, Golby said.

If a service member or veteran admits to subscribing or leaning toward extremist ideology, will that disclosure hurt their military career or legacy?

Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans?

Macias -- the veteran who shot the Facebook video -- had been arrested on November 5 along with another man on suspicion of carrying unpermitted handguns in Philadelphia, where authorities say the men had traveled due to their concerns about "fake ballots. " Macias was released on November 26 after posting $75,000 of his $750,000 bail.

Macias, who says he has left the Vets for Trump group he co-founded, maintains that he did not enter the Capitol building, and so did not violate bail, his attorney, William J.

Some experts caution that it is critical not to paint a broad brush when trying to learn why some veterans are drawn to Trump, extremist views or nationalist movements.

"I would challenge the premise that veterans are any more susceptible to propaganda than anyone else," said Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and former CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Vlad Lemets, a US veteran from Florida and the director of Vets for Trump, said it had members of the organization at the Capitol.

"Promises made, promises kept," said Lemets, a Florida sometime-real estate agent who was born in Russia and said he served in the Iraq War. He asserted that one of the big reasons his organization's followers like Trump is because Trump focused on border security.

"A lot of veterans retired from service -- we find ourselves in government jobs, police, and border patrol," he said.

Kristofer Goldsmith, the former chief investigator for the Vietnam Veterans of America, spent years researching how disinformation -- including Pro-Trump propaganda -- has targeted veterans.

One of the most powerful and popular memes shared among veterans online during the last several years, Goldsmith said, was a doctored image of four female Democratic representatives -- known as the Squad -- posing in front of an ISIS flag, an "impeach Trump" sign and portrait of Osama bin Laden.

In 2018, Goldsmith tried to call national attention to the problem in a Wired op-ed and said the VVA asked the US Department of Veterans Affairs to take a more proactive role in helping veterans disseminate fact from fiction.

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