Written by Hudson Crozier
What happened: A Catholic family was investigated by an FBI counterterrorism unit involved in Jan. 6 cases, according to an arrest warrant for Connecticut father Jeremiah Rufini.
- Catch up: Rufini claimed on a now-deleted fundraising page that the FBI raided his home over his son’s “offensive memes” in online chats. Rufini and his brother now face state charges of child endangerment related to the boy’s access to firearms.
The ugly side: Rufini's son undoubtedly showed extremist tendencies online. The FBI found posts in which he encouraged people to bomb a Masonic lodge, threatened to go to a synagogue with a weapon, and said “I wanna kill n***ers” while showing off his family’s guns.
- The defense: Rufini said the FBI ultimately found no concrete plan for violence and that federal agents may have “operated” the chats. The bureau has a long history of using undercover agents to provoke people into criminal activity.
Why it matters: President Joe Biden’s FBI has shifted its focus to right-wing “extremism” — away from issues such as child exploitation — in line with his election strategy of portraying conservatives as an existential threat to the country. The arrest warrant shows how extensive this agenda is, including the level of coordination with non-federal law enforcement.
The Jan. 6 connection: The author of the warrant is Connecticut State Police Trooper Sean Brennan, who is part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). He obtained another arrest warrant against a Trump supporter accused of nonviolent offenses for protesting at the U.S. Capitol.
- The jargon: The FBI uses Brennan in part for his experience investigating “anti-government/anti-authority violent extremism” — a term the bureau updated to include political movements after the Capitol protest.
- Many more like him: The terrorism task force has “hundreds of participating state [and] local” law enforcement agencies, according to the FBI’s website.