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Twelve US National Guard members removed from Joe Biden inauguration duty due to ‘far right links’

April Roach
·2 min read
<p>View of the US Capitol Building ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

View of the US Capitol Building ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

(AFP via Getty Images)

Twelve US Army National Guard members have been removed from their inauguration duties after they were vetted by the authorities, said Pentagon officials.

A US Army official and a senior US intelligence official confirmed the decision to remove the 12 Guard members to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity due to Defense Department media regulations.

No plot against the president-elect Joe Biden was found, reports the American news agency.

It was initially reported that two Guard members were removed due to their ties to right wing millitias but a Pentagon spokesman said the vetting went beyond ties to extremist groups.

One National Guard member was removed from duty after troubling text messages and another had been reported to a tip line, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army General Daniel Hokanson told reporters.

The decision to prevent the two members of the National Guard from taking part in the security mission to secure the inauguration comes amid heightened concerns following the violence at the US Capitol in Washington by pro-Donald Trump rioters.

The US Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are aware of the potential threat, and he has warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches.

The FBI is said to to be in process of vetting all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area.

It comes after the Capitol complex was temporarily locked down on Monday during a rehearsal for Mr Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns.

But law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. Local firefighters put out the blaze quickly.

The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said.

Mr Biden was not participating in the rehearsal, nor were other VIPs who will attend Wednesday’s ceremony.

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