Salem Radio Network News Monday, December 5, 2022

Politics

‘Zombie killer’ axes part of U.S. Capitol rioters’ planning, FBI agent says

By Chris Gallagher

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -“Zombie Killer” tomahawk axes were among the weapons that Donald Trump supporters recommended bringing to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, an FBI agent testified on Thursday at the trial of five members of the far-right Oath Keepers.

FBI agent Michael Palian read from what he described as a planning document prepared by Thomas Caldwell, one of the five on trial for charges including seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in planning the attack, which was intended to overturn then-President Trump’s election defeat.

“Each team member shall be equipped with a striking weapon,” Caldwell wrote in the document sent on Dec. 2, 2020, Palian said in his third day of testimony. “When the battle is joined, apply the striking weapon wherever it will do the most good.”

Knives, multitools and a “Zombie Killer” tomahawk were recommended as weapons.

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four associates – Caldwell, Kenneth Harrelson, Kelly Meggs and Jessica Watkins – are accused of plotting to prevent Congress from certifying the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021, in a failed bid to keep Trump, a Republican, in power.

Some of the defendants are among the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol building after the then-president falsely claimed the election had been stolen from him through widespread fraud, prosecutors say.

The five defendants are charged with several felonies, including seditious conspiracy, a Civil War-era statute that is rarely prosecuted and carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Rhodes, a Yale-educated attorney and former U.S. Army paratrooper, is the most high-profile defendant on trial, but Thursday morning’s testimony focused largely on Caldwell’s alleged role.

Caldwell, in the operations plan, instructed Oath Keeper members not to use their actual names, how to create cover stories for their “mission” and to use “burner phones” because their personal cellphones were traceable.

“The OTC (Overall Tactical Commander) should consider having limited firearms available which can be rapidly introduced into the mission area,” Caldwell also wrote. He added that they should make weapons “non-attributable” by wearing gloves and wiping them down before use to remove any fingerprints.

Palian also read messages sent by Caldwell during the storming of the Capitol that gave the FBI agent the impression that Caldwell had entered the Capitol building, although he has not been charged with having done so.

“We have planted a flag on Capitol steps,” Caldwell wrote in a Facebook message dated Jan. 6, 2021, at 2:11 p.m., which he followed with another message at 2:28 p.m. saying, “We are surging forward. Doors breached,” and yet another at 3:06 p.m. stating simply: “Inside.”

Attorneys for the defendants have said the evidence will show that the defendants did nothing illegal and that the Oath Keepers are simply a peacekeeping group that has done security work at events around the country in recent years.

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; editing by Scott Malone, Richard Pullin and Jonathan Oatis)

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