Ex-FBI official fears Ohio attack could act as a rallying cry for ‘other unhinged’ people

·2-min read

An assault on the FBI’s Cincinnati headquarters could act as a rallying cry for other “unhinged” people to launch copycat attacks, a former top agent has warned.

Authorities said a man armed with an assault rifle and wearing body armour tried to breach the Ohio field office on Thursday, before sparking a stand-off after fleeing towards a highway.

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told CNN on Thursday it was “coincidental” that the attack on an FBI field office came so soon after the search warrant was executed on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.

Mr McCabe said the attacks endangered lives and called on Justice Department leaders to address the “overheated rhetoric ... that has literally created the threat towards members of the department”.

Prominent Republican lawmakers have been accused of stoking violence in recent days.

GOP lawmaker Ronny Jackson tweeted earlier this week that the FBI had become “the enemy of the people”.

Louisiana GOP senator John Kennedy said in an interview on cable news that the FBI was “going to give Trump a fair and impartial firing squad”.

Even after the Ohio stand-off began, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel continued to ramp up the anger, tweeting: “How long until Democrats send the IRS ‘SWAT team’ after your kids’ lemonade stand?”

Commentators on social media said Republicans’ “abhorrent grandstanding” was endangering lives.

Former Trump official Olivia Troy called on the “anti-FBI and conspiracy-infused rhetoric across” to stop.

“We’ve seen this show before. Lying for the sake of grandstanding and fundraising is not only abhorrent—it endangers American lives,” she tweeted.

Olga Lautman, a Ukrainian-American researcher, said Republicans were employing dangerous language that was putting a target on the back of FBI agents, judges, and other law enforcement agencies.

On Wednesday, FBI director Christopher Wray called threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department “deplorable and dangerous”.

“I’m always concerned about threats to law enforcement,” Mr Wray said.

“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.”