The FBI is investigating whether foreign governments, organisations or individuals provided financial support to people who helped plan and execute the January 6 attack on the Capitol, a news report said on Sunday, 17 January.
The report comes as federal law enforcement seek to track down and charge members of the mob involved in the riots.
As part of the investigation, the FBI is examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups in the far right before the riot.
According to NBC News, the payments were documented and posted online last week by a company that analyses cryptocurrency transfers. Bitcoin payments can be traced because they are documented on a public ledger.
The cryptocurrency payments prompted the FBI to examine whether any of the money was used to fund illegal acts, which, if true, raises the possibility of money-laundering and conspiracy charges, an FBI official said.
Separately, a joint threat assessment issued last week by the FBI, the department of homeland security, and various other federal and DC-area police agencies noted since the deadly January 6 riot, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.
The examination of possible foreign influence related to the Capitol riot, which involves the FBI’s counterintelligence division, comes after years of what current and former FBI officials say is mounting evidence that Russia and other foreign adversaries have sought to secretly support political extremists on the far right and far left.
Law enforcement officials and terrorism experts say there has long been a mutual affection between western white supremacists and the Russian government.
Some senators were concerned enough about the issue that they inserted a requirement in the 2021 defence bill that the Pentagon report to Congress on the extent of Russian support for racially and ethnically motivated violent, extremist groups and networks in Europe and the United States.
Five people died last week in the riots that temporarily halted congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, over 100 arrests have been made in connection with the riot.