Army Reserve sergeant and AWOL soldier who joined YPG arrested amid Capitol riot fallout

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An Army Reserve sergeant described in charging documents as “an avowed white supremacist” was arrested Sunday in New Jersey for taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Further south in Florida, and further left on the political spectrum, a former soldier who fought with the YPG in Syria was arrested Friday for allegedly threatening Trump supporters ahead of upcoming protests in Tallahassee.

Sgt. Timothy L. Hale-Cusanelli, 30, was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct during the Jan. 6 riot. He was charged following an NCIS investigation at Naval Weapons Station Earle where he works as a contractor, maintains a secret security clearance and has access to a variety of munitions, according to an NCIS agent’s signed statement.

Hale-Cusanelli is a human resources specialist with the 174th Infantry Brigade at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, according to Army Reserve Command. He has served since 2009 but has never deployed.

“The Army does not tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks and is committed to working closely with the FBI as they identify people who participated in the violent attack on the Capitol to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army,” said Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, an Army Reserve Command spokesman.

An NCIS informant recorded Hale-Cusanelli admitting to entering the Capitol building and saying that he encouraged other members of the mob to “advance” through both voice and hand signals, the complaint reads.

That informant also described Hale-Cusanelli as “an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer.”

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Hale-Cusanelli allegedly told the informant that if they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building, the complaint stated. He also admitted to “taking a flag and flagpole that he observed another rioter throw ‘like a javelin’ at a Capitol Police officer, which [Hale-Cusanelli] described as a ‘murder weapon.’”

Hale-Cusanelli said he intended “to destroy or dispose of the flag and flagpole as soon as he could,” the complaint added.

Also arrested this weekend was Daniel A. Baker, 33, a former soldier who went absent without leave in 2007 and received an other-than-honorable discharge. A decade later, he traveled to Syria to join a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia called the YPG.

Baker was charged with inciting violence online by issuing a “call to arms” to confront Trump supporters in Tallahassee, Florida, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Baker, incensed over the Jan. 6 riot, circulated a flier calling for Florida residents to “encircle terrorists who attack” the state Capitol building during upcoming protests, according to the complaint.

A recent FBI bulletin warned of plans for armed protests by pro-Trump groups at all 50 state capitals and D.C. in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“Let them take the capitol and fight with cops, SURROUND THEM AND TRAP THEM INSIDE!” the flier reads. “We will protect Capitol RESIDENTS an CIVILIANS from armed racist mobs with EVERY CALIBER AVAILABLE.”

Baker posted the flier Jan. 14 in a comment under an online news article discussing how Tallahassee police will be “fully staffed and prepared ahead of any potential Inauguration Day protests,” the complaint stated.

Baker, who also traveled to the self-declared Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, was actively attempting to purchase additional firearms in the days prior to his arrest, according to the FBI, citing screenshots included in the complaint.

Baker had a history of posting inflammatory messages on social media that initially drew the FBI’s attention in October, the complaint stated. In recent days, the posts “escalated” to include the call to arms, prompting an arrest that took place “without incident,” FBI officials said.

About

Kyle is a staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the U.S. Army. He served an enlistment as an Air Force Special Tactics CCT and JTAC.

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