Capitol Storm Instigated: Who are the “Oathkeepers”?

They are considered “Trump’s toughest warriors” and played a key role in the seizure of the Capitol in Washington about a year ago: members of the “Oath Keepers” citizen militia. Today, one of their leaders has been charged. Who is behind the group that nearly plunged the United States into civil war?

His behavior is a little bizarre: Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the right-wing militia “Oath Keepers” looks like a typical small-town American who took a wrong turn on the way to the children’s carnival. The left eye is adorned with a pirate eye patch, over which he wears plain glasses and a black cap with a yellow print. However, anyone who strikes up a conversation with him soon realizes that Rhodes is anything but an innocent citizen.

“Oath Keepers”: a militia made up of ex-cops, firefighters and soldiers

Stewart Rhodes, ex-member of the American army, considers himself a fighter of the American “Oath”, hence the name of his citizens’ militia: “Oath Keepers”. The whole thing refers to the oath of office that U.S. soldiers, marines, and police officers must take upon completion of their training and acceptance into government service. It states that they are committed to “defending the Constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies”. In fact, many former military personnel, firefighters, paramedics, and police are among the “oath keepers,” as the militia itself writes on its website.

Stewart Rhodes is the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers.

American investigators, charged with investigating the events surrounding January 6, 2021, are convinced that Rhodes and his comrades in arms played a significant role in the attack on the Capitol in Washington. As a result, charges were brought against the 56-year-old and ten other “oath keepers”. The department in Washington said Thursday (local time) they were charged with “seditious conspiracy.” Rhodes himself was arrested in the state of Texas the same day.

Stewart Rhodes: “We can’t avoid civil war.”

The “Spiegel” looked at the indictment and wrote that it reads “like a political thriller”. As a result, Rhodes and company meticulously planned and carried out the storming of the US Parliament with other far-right groups for months. Their goal: to bring back to power former US President Donald Trump, who was rejected by the American people, whom they admire and who repeatedly incited them and other insurgents.

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Among other things, the “Oath Keepers” carried out extensive reconnaissance missions in the US capital and gathered for exercises in Washington before the escalation took place on January 6. Evacuation plans were drawn up and an arms depot set up for use during the attack. According to US broadcaster CBS, which also studied the indictment, Rhodes himself wrote in a group chat: “We can’t avoid a civil war.” a bloody, absolutely bloody revolution is about to begin. This is exactly what will happen. »

‘Oathkeepers’ may be Trump’s ‘toughest warriors’

On the day of the attack itself, Rhodes and the “Oath Keepers” raced around the Capitol grounds, some in specially purchased golf carts, shouting crazy slogans and knocking down barriers. Within Parliament, however, they are said to have made less progress. Some of them failed because of dedicated police, others got lost on the way to the office of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is the object of outright hatred among Trump supporters. Despite everything: their conviction and their lack of scruples make them “Trump’s toughest warriors”, according to the “Spiegel”.

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Rhodes and his friends were obviously very satisfied with their work: after the storm in the Capitol, during which five people died, everyone found themselves in the evening at the restaurant to celebrate. The same will probably go unnoticed for the accused in the future: a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison can be handed down for “seditious conspiracy”.

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