When the FBI arrested Edward “Jake” Lang on Jan. 16 for his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol attack, court documents show agents had followed a seemingly straightforward trail from his public social media to collect evidence. “THIS IS ME,” Lang wrote over one video that showed an angry mob confronting police officers outside the Capitol. The same post showed him trashing a police riot shield.
The government charged Lang with committing assault and other crimes, but the account of his activities spelled out in court papers doesn’t mention how the 25-year-old spent the 10 days between the riots and his capture: recruiting militia members to take up arms against the incoming Biden administration by way of an invitation-only group on the messaging app Telegram.
“Everyone needs to get 5 patriots in this group tonight that’s the goal 🙌🏻🇺🇸🗽,” Lang wrote in a chat on Jan. 9, one of more than 2,500 messages obtained by ProPublica. “We need each person to go out and fight for new members of this Militia like our lives depend on it.”
ProPublica gained access to the group after Lang sent an invitation to a reporter’s social media account. It’s unclear whether Lang knew he had invited a reporter, and the reporter joined but did not participate in the chats.
The group, created two days after the Jan. 6 attack, grew from a few dozen members to nearly 200 in just a week. There, safe from the deplatforming spree of mainstream social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, Lang set out to recruit “normies” and radicalize them to the point that they joined regional militia groups. [Continue reading…]