The world watched in disbelief last week when thousands of pro-Trump fanatics stormed the US Capitol in a violent and unprecedented uprising.
Law enforcement was completely overwhelmed by the mob, and the insurrection ended with five dead, scores injured, President Donald Trump impeached for a second time and a nation shaken to its core.
But as shocking as the Washington siege was, a damning new report has sparked fresh outrage after it was revealed dozens of rioters who participated in the carnage were already on an FBI terror watch list.
THE WATCH LIST
The Washington Post broke the news in an exclusive report after speaking with insiders who claimed "dozens" of insurgents – including many suspected white supremacists – were featured on the national Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB.
According to the FBI's website, the watch list is a "single database that contains sensitive national security and law enforcement information concerning the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities", and is run by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Centre, which was established after the 9/11 attacks.
But according to the Washington Post, the revelation "underscores the limitations of such watch lists".
"Although they are meant to improve information gathering and sharing among investigative agencies, they are far from a foolproof means of detecting threats ahead of time," reporters Devlin Barrett, Spencer S Hsu and Marissa J Lang wrote.
However, it's just the latest in a series of embarrassing leaks to emerge in the aftermath of the bloodshed.
FBI WARNED OF RIOT
Soon after the mob took over the Capitol, Steven D'Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington DC office, claimed there had been "no indication" of serious security threats planned for January 6.
But on January 5, an FBI office in Virginia issued a warning that far-right fanatics were planning to head to Washington for "war", according to a previous Washington Post report.
"As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to 'unlawful lockdowns' to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington, DC," the internal document reads.
"An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating 'Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.' "
The authors of that article described the information as a "sizeable intelligence failure", and Capitol Police chief Steven Sund stood down soon after the siege ended.
'KILL ALL THE DC TRAITORS'
Meanwhile, evidence abounds that the anarchists who stormed the Capitol in what was derided by President-elect Joe Biden as an act of "domestic terrorism" brazenly plotted the attack online for weeks in advance.
Participants took to both mainstream social media sites and niche pro-Trump platforms such as TheDonald and Parler to plan the so-called "Stop the Steal" rally – a reference to Trump's baseless claims that the November 3 election was "stolen" from him via widespread electoral fraud – with many openly promising to carry out violence.
According to extensive research carried out by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, conservative extremist groups had co-ordinated the January 6 riots in plain sight, reaching supporters "in the hundreds of thousands and even millions".
Just one example of the countless online comments – uncovered by the Daily Beast – even called for murder.
"I'm thinking it will be literal war on that day … Where we'll storm offices and physically remove and even kill all the D.C. traitors and reclaim the country," the chilling comment read.
So far, more than 70 individuals have been charged for their involvement in the uprising, with the FBI also setting up a special sedition and conspiracy task force in response, and identifying 170 suspects.
But while authorities work around the clock to bring those responsible to justice, questions remain about how the mayhem was able to unfold in the first place, in the face of such overwhelming intelligence.