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Domestic Terrorists and Extremists
It is difficult to profile American terrorists and extremists, particularly because many are
not associated with well-established ideologies and individuals and ad hoc factions can be as
dangerous as organized groups. Louis Freeh summarized this threat as follows in his testimony
before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee for the Departments of
Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies on February 4, 1999:35
Domestic terrorist groups are those which are based and which operate entirely within the United States, or
its territories, and whose activities are directed at elements of the United States Government or its civilian
population. Domestic terrorist groups represent interests that span the full political spectrum, as well as
social issues and concerns. FBI investigations of domestic terrorist groups or individuals are not predicated
upon social or political beliefs; rather, they are based upon planned or actual criminal activity. The current
domestic terrorist threat primarily comes from right-wing extremist groups, Puerto Rican extremist groups,
and special interest extremists.
Right-wing Extremist Groups. The threat from right-wing extremist groups includes militias, whiteseparatist
groups, and anti-government groups. All right-wing extremist groups tend to encourage massing
weapons, ammunition and supplies in preparation for a confrontation with federal law enforcement, as well
as local law enforcement who are often perceived as agents for the State/Federal government.
The goal of the militia movement is to defend and protect the United States Constitution from those who
want to take away the rights of Americans. The militia movement believes that the United States
Constitution gives Americans the right to live their lives without government interference. The FBI is not
concerned with every single aspect of the militia movement since many militia members are law-abiding
citizens who do not pose a threat of violence. The FBI focuses on radical elements of the militia movement
capable and willing to commit violence against government, law enforcement, civilian, military and
international targets (UN, visiting foreign military personnel). Not every state in the union has a militia
problem. Militia activity varies from states with almost no militia activity (Hawaii, Connecticut) to states
with thousands of active militia members (Michigan, Texas).The American militia movement has grown over the last decade. Factors contributing to growth include:
· GUNS- The right to bear arms is an issue that almost all militia members agree and most militia
members believe a conspiracy exists to take away their guns. The national system of instant
background checks for all gun buyers, mandated by the 1993 Brady Act and which actually was
implemented on November 30, 1998, has further angered many militia groups. These militia
members see this new law as another example of how the government is conspiring to take away
their guns. The banning of semiautomatic assault weapons has also angered many militia
· STATE LAWS- Militias resent state laws forbidding them to gather together to fire weapons.
Sixteen states have laws that prohibit all militia groups and 17 states have laws that prohibit all
· MISTRUST OF FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT- is frequently mentioned in militia literature
and overall militia mythology. FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) actions,
such as Ruby Ridge, the Branch Davidians, and the Freeman standoff, are cited, and thus are hated
and distrusted by many militia members.
· TAXES- Militia members believe that they pay too many taxes and that those tax dollars are
wasted by a huge, uncaring and inefficient bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. Since the Internal
Revenue Service collects federal taxes, it is widely hated by militia members.
· THE UNITED NATIONS - is perceived as an organization bent on taking over the world and
destroying American democracy and establishing "the New World Order." The New World Order
theory holds that, one day, the United Nations will lead a military coup against the nations of the
world to form a one-world government. United Nations troops, consisting of foreign armies, will
commence a military takeover of America. The United Nations will mainly use foreign troops on
American soil because foreigners will have fewer reservations about killing American citizens.
Captured United States military bases will be used to help conquer the rest of the world.
Most of the militia movement has no racial overtones and does not espouse bigotry; there are some black
and Jewish militia members. However, the pseudo-religion of Christian Identity, as well as other hate
philosophies, have begun to creep into the militia movement. This scenario is currently being played out in
the Michigan Militia, arguably the largest militia group in America. Lynn Van Huizen, leader of the
Michigan Militia Corps, is currently trying to oust Christian Identity factions from his group. Christian
Identity is a belief system that provides both a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism, and an
ideological rationale for violence against minorities. This pattern of racist elements seeping into the militia
movement is a disturbing trend, as it will only strengthen the radical elements of the militias.
Many white supremacist groups adhere to the Christian Identity belief system, which holds that the world is
on the verge of a final apocalyptic struggle between God/Christ and Satan (The Battle of Armageddon) in
which Aryans (European Caucasians) must fight Satan's heirs: Jews, nonwhites and their establishment
allies (i.e., the Federal Government). The Christian Identity belief system (also known as Kingdom
Identity) provides a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism, and an ideological rationale for violence
against minorities and their white allies. Christian Identity teaches that the white race is the chosen race of
God, whites are the "true Israelites" and Jews are the Children of Satan. Adherents believe that Jews have
increasingly gained control of the United States Federal Government and are attempting to enslave the
white population by enacting laws subjugating the white people, such as affirmative action, pro-choice, and
To prepare for Armageddon, many Identity adherents engage in survivalist and paramilitary training,
storing foodstuffs and supplies, and caching weapons and ammunition.
…Due to Christian Identity adherents' widespread propaganda efforts and Identity's racist/anti-Semitic/antigovernment
appeal, there are a number of churches and diverse organizations throughout the United States
that embrace the doctrines of Identity. Identity beliefs are also increasingly found in the rhetoric of all types
of right-wing extremist groups, including, but not limited to, militias, survivalist communes, the Ku Klux
Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads, tax protesters, and common law courts. Thus, with the approaching
millennium, there is a greater potential for members from such Identity influenced groups to engage in
violent activities as well.
Other Anti-Government Groups. The other right-wing anti-government groups include Freemen,
"sovereign" citizens, and common law courts. The Freemen and sovereign citizens believe they have the
right to renounce their citizenship, after which they do not have to comply with any laws or rules and the
federal government would have no influence over them. In addition, some, like the Freemen, believe they
have the right to issue their own money that is called "certified comptroller warrants."
Some members of the right-wing have formed their own system of laws to enforce and follow (called
common law courts) to replace the existing court system. The common law courts have no basis in
jurisprudence, but participants claim legitimacy based on the laws of the Old Testament, English common
law, the Magna Carta and commercial law. Some common law courts have issued arrest warrants, but as of
yet, there are no reports that any of these arrests have been accomplished.