A report from the Department of Homeland Security warns about a growing terror threat in the United States. Who are these potential terrorists? ISIS? Perhaps Al Qaeda has activated new cells here? According to CNN’s analysis of the report, it’s neither. This terror threat comes from right-wing, sovereign citizen extremists.
CNN reports that they’re already carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, and they’ve threatened to attack government buildings. Sovereign citizens reject all government authority, to the point where they’ll tell a court that they don’t recognize the court’s authority to mete out punishment for crimes. They also don’t recognize police officers’ authority to stop them, let alone arrest and charge them with crimes, and they’ll sometimes attack officers who try.
Some federal and local agencies believe that the threat of right-wing terrorism is even greater than the threat from ISIS. The DHS report, according to CNN, says there have been 24 sovereign citizen attacks since 2010. While ISIS and Al Qaeda have carried out many attacks in that same time frame, none of them were on our soil.
What the federal government focuses on depends heavily on what the threats from other terrorist groups—like ISIS—are at that time. Sometimes they’re very interested in domestic terror threats, and other times they’re more focused on foreign threats. The right-wing terrorism threat appears on their radar at different times.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the sovereign citizens movement has been growing quickly since the late 2000s. Many of them resort to clogging the court system with pseudo-legal filings for things as simple as pet licensing requirements, or even traffic stops. The movement has its roots in both racism and anti-Semitism. Many of its members today are black; however, many of them also don’t know the movement’s racist roots.
The SPLC says that when these people feel cornered, or they reach their last straw, they’ll lash out with violence against the next government official they encounter. This often happens at routine traffic stops, or other encounters that might be annoying, but mundane, for the rest of us.
The SPLC has a long list of attacks and attempted attacks by these right-wing terrorists, going all the way back to 1995. They include the shooting of two police officers in a pizzeria in Las Vegas just last year, to an attack on an Islamic center in Houston in 2011, to a KKK plot to blow up a natural gas refinery in 1997. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing is a prime example of how bad these right-wing terrorists can be. The SPLC’s list is shockingly long.
Alternet has an article discussing a recent right-wing terror plot, which the FBI foiled in 2014. The three men involved were all part of a right-wing militia in Georgia, and were planning to kill police officers and attack several government buildings in Atlanta. If they had succeeded, it would have been the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9-11.
While right-wing terrorism does not come from the mainstream political right, it is their ideology that these people take to an extreme. Like the right’s claim that Islam is prone to extremism, and thus, terrorism; we could say their own ideologies are prone to extremism, and thus, terrorism. If this does start getting reported more widely, we should expect the right to defend themselves by saying that these right-wing terrorists have corrupted and perverted their ideologies.
Featured image by Rika Christensen/Liberalistics