The right-wing Oath Keepers stoked conspiratorial fears about the Joe Biden administration in the weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection, as leaders funneled donations away from a crowdfunding site.
A leaked batch of messages uploaded this week by the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets shows group founder Stuart Rhodes encouraging members early this year to go into debt, if necessary, to purchase fuel ahead of a "decapitation strike" against the Oath Keepers under the guise of a widespread power outage, reported The Daily Beast.
"The domestic enemy wolves will be at the door of all your supporters as well," Rhodes told members in an email blast. "Liberty-loving American constitutionalists will have no choice but to honor their oaths and defend both the Constitution and their families when the communists and obedient Deep State minions come for them (as they are already planning on doing)."
Rhodes also encouraged Donald Trump to release what he believed was a batch of damaging information against his enemies to remain in power after losing the election, and after the failure of an insurrection that some Oath Keepers helped plan.
"At the very least, do the mass declassification and data dump," Rhodes wrote. "You still have absolute authority as President and Commander-in-Chief to declassify any files held by the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. Use trusted elite units you know are still loyal to the Constitution to get it done (to seize the servers and dump the data on 4Chan, 8Chan, etc)."
Rhodes also warned followers that the incoming Biden administration would take out the power grid and carry out targeted strikes against Trump-supporting families.
"Within the short term, we face a very high possibilty [sic] of an intentional 'comms down' scenario where black hats take down/shut down all communications in the US - No cell service, no internet, no land lines,' Rhodes wrote Jan. 13. "A comms blackout. This could also include a take down of electrical power. An intentional power blackout. Worst case scenario would be an EMP [electromagnetic pulse] strike. The purpose of such a comms down/blackout will be to minimize our ability to communicate and to pin people in their homes as the black hats and their terrorist allies conduct a 'night of the long knives' decapitation strike to arrest or otherwise take out patriot leaders, potential leaders, and highly skilled personnel."
The emails also appealed to members for donations to support jailed members and respond to a tornado in Alabama, although Rhodes noted that police had declined the Oath Keepers' offer of assistance.
"The local PD has let us know they have enough man-power to cover their needs and the security need is not as bad as first anticipated. Therefore, we are standing down on this operation," Rhodes wrote, although the group kept those donations.
"To those who donated to support this mission: we greatly appreciate your support," he added. "Donors like you make what we do possible and we couldn't do it without you. We hope you will simply let us use your donation to fund our future operations (no doubt we will be in the field again very soon) and our ongoing expenses. However, if you donated to this effort and do want a refund, email us and we'll get it done."
From Jan. 18 to Feb. 16, New Jersey Oath Keeper Edward Durfee made withdrawals from the account almost daily, totaling more than $28,000. Durfee, who is running for office in New Jersey, did not return requests for comment on Thursday (nor did he respond previously, when asked about allegations that Oath Keepers swindled application fees).
The purpose of the Oath Keepers' RallyPay account is unclear. Leaked chat logs reveal the group "promoted" one such account in support of alleged Capitol rioter Jessica Watkins. The Oath Keepers have also run their own RallyPay fundraisers since at least October 2020.
Questions about money are laced through the leaked emails. In February, Rhodes emailed Oath Keepers asking for their help responding to a tornado in Alabama. Although the email called for volunteers, it also asked for donations. Two days later, Rhodes emailed again, informing followers that local first responders had declined the group's services.
"The local PD has let us know they have enough man-power to cover their needs and the security need is not as bad as first anticipated. Therefore, we are standing down on this operation," Rhodes wrote. Nevertheless, he noted, the Oath Keepers would like to keep the donations it had received for the Alabama mission.
"To those who donated to support this mission: we greatly appreciate your support," he wrote. "Donors like you make what we do possible and we couldn't do it without you. We hope you will simply let us use your donation to fund our future operations (no doubt we will be in the field again very soon) and our ongoing expenses. However, if you donated to this effort and do want a refund, email us and we'll get it done."
However, the leak also revealed the Oath Keepers angered many members by ignoring requests for refunds for application fees.