New Report by Southern Poverty Law Center Backs Up Homeland Security's Warning That Anti-Government Militias Driven by Racism and Xenophobia Are Joining Forces With White-Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Groups for a Campaign of Harassment and Intimidation That Could Escalate into Hate-Motivated Terror Attacks Across the Country
(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Monday, August 24, 2009)
(Updated 2:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, August 25, 2009)
EX-STUDENT ARRESTED AFTER PIPE BOMB BLASTS AT CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN MATEO, California — A former student at a high school in this San Francisco suburb, armed with 10 pipe bombs, a chainsaw and a sword, planned to forge a path of destruction through his old campus Monday, authorities said.
Investigators believe his plan was to kill people with bombs, then slaughter the survivors with the chainsaw and sword. Instead, the 17-year-old was able to detonate only two of the bombs -- injuring no one -- before staffers at the school tackled him and police arrived.
On Monday evening he was at juvenile hall after being questioned by police and prosecutors. His name has not been released because he is a juvenile. Prosecutors said no decision had been made on whether to charge him as an adult.
Police, including members of the San Mateo SWAT team, descended on the school and evacuated students and staffers to a nearby middle school, then combed the campus for more bombs and evidence.
Authorities said the suspect had previously been a student at Hillsdale but had not attended the school last year. Video footage shot by KTVU-TV showed a young man with a wispy beard in a white T-shirt being led away by police.
By SKEETER SANDERS
After nearly a decade of "flying under the radar" of public scrutiny, far-right-wing militia groups, income-tax resisters and self-identified "Patriots" are once again making headlines.
But this time, they've found common ground with avowed white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups and appear to be engaging in a campaign of harassment and intimidation that potentially could lead to a wave of deadly domestic terrorism, according to a newly-released report by a prominent anti-hate watchdog organization.
The 24-page report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, entitled "The Second Wave: Return of the Militias," notes that once-popular militia conspiracy theories are making the rounds again, this time accompanied by nativist theories about secret Mexican plans to "reconquer" the American Southwest.
The report warns that while the so-called "Patriot" movement may not have the white-hot fury that it did in the 1990s, it "clearly is growing again," and that Americans -- particularly law-enforcement agencies -- "need to take the dangers it presents seriously."
SPLC REPORT BACKS UP APRIL WARNING BY HOMELAND SECURITY
The SPLC's warning comes on the heels of an similarly alarming report released in April by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that warned that "The consequences of a prolonged economic downturn" -- combined with the election last November of Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American president -- "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities. . ."
Homeland Security's April warning was roundly attacked by conservative politicians and media pundits. Then came the attack in June by James von Brunn, a heavily-armed white supremacist, at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington. Von Brunn went on a shooting rampage that killed a black security guard and sent hundreds of tourists fleeing for cover before he was shot and wounded by police.
Investigators found a list in von Brunn's car of numerous places in and around the nation's capital that they believe the gunman also intended to attack -- including the White House, The Washington Post building and the Washington bureau of Fox News.
The SPLC's report cites law-enforcement officials across the country reporting a "worrying uptick" in so-called "Patriot" movement activities and propaganda. "This is the most significant growth we've seen in 10 to 12 years," the report quotes one official as saying. "All it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you'll see threats and violence."
MOVEMENT RADICALIZED BY AMERICA'S CHANGING RACIAL MAKEUP
Most disturbing, the SPLC report says, is that the all-white and nearly all-male "Patriot" movement -- long known for its anti-government militancy -- has been radicalized by the fact that the federal government is now headed by a black man, in the person of President Obama.
Combined with high levels of non-white immigration, both legal and illegal, and a steady erosion in the white percentage of the U.S. population -- to the point that whites will lose their majority by the middle of the century, according to the Census Bureau -- the "Patriot" movement, which in the past was not primarily motivated by racial hatred, has found common ground with white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, the SPLC report says.
Many white supremacists see Obama's election as the first clear evidence of the decline of the white population's majority in the U.S. -- and with it, their hold on the levers of power and authority. The result has been a significant increase in racially-motivated incidents in the past year after it became clear that Obama would win the Democratic presidential nomination and the November general election.
The SPLC report also blames right-wing politicians and media pundits for having "helped to spread 'Patriot' and related propaganda, from conspiracy theories about a secret network of U.S. concentration camps to [the "Birther" movement's] wholly unsubstantiated claims about the president's country of birth."
REPORT: EX-FBI AGENT TELLS MILITANTS OF GOVERNMENT 'INTERNMENT CAMPS'
The SPLC report doesn't shy away from naming names. It cites Ted Gunderson, a retired FBI agent, as telling a gathering of anti-government militiamen in Pensacola, Florida that the federal government "has set up 1,000 internment camps across the country and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta."
The report says that Gunderson told the militiamen that the materiel is being gathered by the government for the day it declares martial law and moves in to round up or kill its opponents. "They’re [the Feds] going to keep track of all of us, folks!" Gunderson is quoted as saying.
Outside Atlanta, a so-called "American Grand Jury" has issued an "indictment" of Obama for fraud and treason because he wasn’t born in the United States and is illegally occupying the presidency, the report says, with other self-appointed "grand juries" across the country -- none of them convened by any court of law -- quickly following suit.
Even in the overwhelmingly Democratic Northeast -- where Obama racked up the greatest electoral landslide of any Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 -- die-hard right-wing opponents of the president are nonetheless organizing against him, the SPLC report said.
In Massachusetts, for example, members of Oath Keepers, a newly-formed group of law enforcement officers, military personnel and veterans, gathered on April 19 -- the anniversary of the 1993 Branch Davidian disaster in Waco, Texas and the Oklahoma City bombing two years later -- to reaffirm their pledge to "defend the U.S. Constitution" against what the group sees is an "illegitimate" administration in Washington.
MILITIAS 'FORMING ALLIANCES' WITH WHITE SUPREMACISTS, ANTI-SEMITES AND XENOPHOBES
The SPLC report notes that, "Although there has been a remarkable rash of domestic terrorist incidents" since Obama’s election last November, "it has not reached the level of criminal violence, attempted terrorist attacks and white-hot language that marked the militia movement at its peak."
But the report does warn that "militia training events -- huge numbers of which are now viewable on YouTube videos -- are spreading," and that, according to one law-enforcement agency it did not identify, at least 50 new militia training groups have sprung up in less than two years and that sales of firearms and ammunition "have skyrocketed amid fears of new gun-control laws."
More worrisome to authorities, the report said, is that "Militiamen, white supremacists, anti-Semites, [xenophobic] nativists, tax protesters and a range of other activists of the radical right are cross-pollinating and may even be coalescing."
The report quotes Bart McEntire, a special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as saying that, "You’re seeing the bubbling [of anti-government sentiment] right now." McEntire, a Virginia-based supervisory agent for the bureau who has infiltrated racist hate groups, said of the rising militancy: "You see people buying into what they’re saying. It’s primed to grow. The only thing you don’t have to set it on fire is a Waco or Ruby Ridge."
Another federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed. "They’re not at the level we saw in ’94-’95," the official said, "But this is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years. All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you'll see threats and violence."
INCREASE IN VIOLENT INCIDENTS SINCE OBAMA'S ELECTION
In fact, threats and violence from the radical right already are accelerating, the SPLC report noted, including a spate of high-profile murders committed by white men "with anti-government, racist, anti-Semitic or pro-militia views," including the killings of three Pittsburgh police officers by a white man who had been stockpiling weapons in fear that the Obama administration would push for new gun-control laws.
In Maine, another white man, believed by authorities to be a neo-Nazi "very upset" with Obama's election, was stockpiling materials in his home to make a radioactive "dirty bomb" in what police believe was a possible plot to assassinate the president. But the man, identified as James Cummings, never got the chance to finish making his bomb -- he was shot and killed in February by his estranged wife.
In Tennessee, two neo-Nazi skinheads were arrested by federal agents last October on charges of plotting to assassinate then-candidate Obama as part of a killing spree, shooting or decapitating more than 80 other African-Americans.
Two months earlier, law-enforcement officers arrested two other white men in a suburb of Denver in an alleged plot to assassinate Obama while he delivered his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium at the conclusion of the Democratic Convention.
REPORT BLASTS RIGHT-WING POLITICOS, PUNDITS
The SPLC report also blamed right-wing politicians and media pundits for contributing to the rise in anti-government militancy. It singled out Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, for raising the prospect of his state seceding from the Union "several months after Obama’s inauguration," a notion that was first brought up a decade earlier by the militia group Republic of Texas following the Banch Davidian debacle at Waco.
The report also blasted Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) for her highly controversial comment that she feared Obama was planning "re-education camps for young people" reminiscent of those established by China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s; and Representative Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama), for "evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Senator Joseph McCarthy," who in the 1950s warned of 17 "socialists" in Congress.
CNN’s Lou Dobbs came under sharp criticism in the report for "treating the so-called Aztlan conspiracy" -- secret Mexican plans to "reconquer" the American Southwest -- as a bona fide concern and for giving airtime to "Birther" conspiracy theorists who adamantly insist that Obama is not a native-born U.S. citizen, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- and even his own network’s definitive debunking of the "Birthers'" claims.
Fox News host Glenn Beck -- whose show has become the target of an advertiser boycott after he called Obama a "racist" who "hates white people" -- was cited by the SPLC for having also called the president "a fascist, a Nazi and a Marxist" -- even giving airtime to militia conspiracy theories alleging a secret network of "government-run concentration camps."
While the SPLC report did not make any detailed recommendations on how to deal with rising far-right militancy, it did make clear the need for increased vigilance. The movement, the report said, "clearly is growing again," and that Americans -- particularly law-enforcement agencies -- "need to take the dangers it presents seriously."# # #
(For the full text of the SPLC report, CLICK HERE).# # #
Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.