Former Head of Jan. 6 Bomb Investigation Reveals Key Obstacle to Identifying Suspect

Former Head of Jan. 6 Bomb Investigation Reveals Key Obstacle to Identifying Suspect
Steven D'Antuono, head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington field office, speaks during a news conference at the US Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 12, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger/various sources/AFP via Getty Images)

The FBI captured data on people around the sites at which pipe bombs were discovered on Jan. 6, 2021, but some of the data was not usable, the former head of the bureau’s investigation into the bombs has claimed.

Agents “did a complete geofence” of the areas, Steven D’Antuono, the former FBI official, said.

“We have complete data. Not complete, because there’s some data that was corrupted,” he added.

Geofencing is a technique that involves creating a zone and locating all devices within the area. The FBI has utilized the data it obtained through geofencing in charging documents against people charged over the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

D’Antuono said that the data was corrupted “by one of the providers” before saying it was not done intentionally.

“It just—unusual circumstance that we have corrupt data from one of the providers,” he said. “I’m not sure—I can’t remember right now which one.”

D’Antuono said he did not want the information to trigger “conspiracy theories” but acknowledged that having the data “could have been good” and that it was “painful for us to not have that.”

D’Antuono, who departed the FBI in 2022, was speaking to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on June 7. The panel released portions of the interview on June 14.

Video footage of the suspect in the case showed the person using a phone before placing the bombs at the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who was questioning D’Antuono when the former official made the comments, called the data corruption disclosure “unbelievable.”

Massie, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) highlighted the remarks in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. They said the testimony “raises concerns about the FBI’s handling of the pipe bomb investigation, more than 890 days following the placement of the pipe bombs, and despite your statements that you have ‘total confidence’ the FBI will apprehend the subject.”

The congressmen reiterated their request for a briefing on the investigation. They also asked for all documents and communications concerning the FBI’s gathering of phone records relating to the placement of the bombs.

The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation, citing its policy of not commenting on ongoing cases.

An unknown individual placed two pipe bombs in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington on Jan. 5, 2021. (FBI via The Epoch Times)

Update on Viability

D’Antuono said in a message to the public in March 2021 that the bombs “were viable devices that could have been detonated, resulting in serious injury or death.”

The FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, also concluded that the bombs could explode and cause harm or death, D’Antuono told members.

But he also acknowledged that the timers on the bomb could not have detonated.

“Do you think it was technically possible for a kitchen timer . . . that has [a] 1-hour duration . . . to detonate a bomb 17 hours later?” Massie asked.

“No, I don’t. And I saw the same kitchen timer as you. I agree,” D’Antuono said. “I don’t know when they were supposed to go off. Maybe they weren’t supposed to go off. We can’t—we don’t know. We honestly don’t know.”

Former FBI agent Kyle Seraphin said in May that the bombs could not have exploded.

“They were inert devices,” he said. “They just looked good.”

Seraphin also said that investigators were able to figure out which D.C. MetroRail card the suspected bomber utilized after planting the bombs and discovered the card was purchased by a security contractor who used to be in the Air Force. Seraphin said he was part of a surveillance team that surveilled the contractor but that his superiors would not let him speak to the person.

“It seems like they had a good lead, and they could have run it down. But as far as I know, they never did,” Seraphin said.

During another portion of the interview, D’Antuono said he did not know whether the FBI interviewed the person who discovered one of the bombs. He also said he’s confident the person seen in the surveillance footage is the person who planted the bombs but that investigators do not even know whether the person is a man or a woman.

Pipe Bomb Jan 6
(Left) A suspect in the placement of two devices that the FBI said were pipe bombs is seen in Washington on Jan. 5, 2021; (Right) a closeup photograph of one of the devices. (FBI via The Epoch Times)

Reward Raised

The FBI raised the reward for information about the suspect in January to $500,000 as the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) said identifying the person “remains a priority.”

The bombs could have gone off and the suspect “may still pose a danger to the public or themselves,” authorities also said.

Wray, the FBI’s director, said on Fox News the following month that he had “enormous confidence” in the team investigating the matter.

“We have devoted loads and loads of effort into that specific investigation,” Wray said. “We have done publicity and calling for the public’s help. Our folks are working very, very hard on that investigation. And those folks, those FBI agents, analysts, and professional staff, I have total confidence in them.”

Questioned by Massie in April, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach would not say whether the bombs were operable.

“That’s a significant matter,” he said. “It’s an ongoing criminal investigation and I’m not going to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.”

From The Epoch Times

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