Bill Berkowitz / Buzzflash @ Truthout – 2014-06-14 02:32:35
(June 11, 2014) — Earlier this month, The Daily Mirror‘s Alex Wellman reported that “Members of the Loyal White Knights (LWK) faction of the [Ku Klux Klan] claim an influx of military troops returning to the US from overseas will train recruits in armed combat.” Wellman pointed out that: “The group, which is thought to be active in at least three states, said it was taking the move to prepare for a race war they claim is coming — along with the collapse of modern society.”
While most people recognize that the LWK isn’t capable of mounting anything near what they’re dreaming about, nevertheless, one’s head would have to be deeply buried in the sand not to recognize that there has been a precipitous rise in anti-government rhetoric and acts of domestic terrorism in recent months — as witnessed by the recent anti-government gatherings at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, the anti-Semitic-motivated shootings in Overland Park, Kansas, an attempted attack on a Forsyth County Georgia courthouse by a man with ties to the Sovereign Citizen movement, and Jerad and Amanda Miller’s recent Las Vegas rampage which resulted in the deaths of three people, including two police officers.
The recent spate of white-supremacist/anti-Semitic-inspired shootings is not an unfamiliar phenomenon. In January 2004, I wrote a story titled “Whither America’s Homegrown Terrorists,” which cited a number of terrorist actions by far-right activists.
From the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City — which killed 168 people and wounded more than 500 — to numerous anti-government plots to kill police officers, from the bombing of abortion clinics to the murder of doctors who perform abortion, white domestic terrorists have been plotting in the shadows, and acting out their own “revolutionary” scenarios for more than 20 years.
During the Bush administration, a January 2005 Department of Homeland Security document entitled “Integrated Planning Guidance, Fiscal Years 2005-2011,” didn’t even list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups as a threat to national security.
Four years later, a DHS report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” stated that “Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”
The report argued that: “The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s [during the Clinton administration] when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs and the perceived threat to US power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.”
“Rightwing Extremism” also pointed out that “Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of right-wing extremist groups . . . The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by right-wing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement.”
Before the report could be released, right-wing groups successfully mobilized to kill it and, while they were at it, demand the resignation of then Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
Rallying and Recruiting for Armed Struggle
According to The Raw Story‘s Travis Gettys, the Klan, “which has an estimated 6,500 members, has never before trained its members in combat tactics.”
“We got police officers in the Klan, we got lawyers, we got doctors — your next-door neighbor could be in the Klan, and you’d never know it,” said James Moore, grand dragon for Virginia.
Barcroft Media, a London-based “international media content company … specialize[ing] in covering the amazing side of life,” was given “special access to a [Klan] recruitment rally at a secret location.”
A Barcroft reporter accompanied Klan members on a “night ride.” According to John Himmler, Grand Dragon for West Virginia, “night ride is an old Klan term. When the Klan went out on a night ride, they went out and patrolled the streets, sort of vigilante style.” On this night, a Klan night ride consisted of members randomly tossing leaflets onto lawns in a local area.
While the Klan’s drive-by leaflet tossing may be financially feasible, it doesn’t quite square with its goals of recruiting young people and returning military members.
According to Professor Brian Levin, a criminologist and civil rights lawyer who appears in the Barcroft Media video, “The Klan is aiming for a younger demographic for a couple of reasons. First, to keep the organization alive; the Klan has traditionally been aimed at an older audience. In addition though, youth provides it with a more relevant social and political base as well as some technological knowhow as well.”
At the rally, which attracted only 40 people, one Klan leader said: “We’re going to do something a little different for probably the next couple of years to try to get our men and women ready for the upcoming battle that we’re about to take upon us, and this is something that no Klan has ever done and we’re going to start it. All our boys are finally coming back home from the military, which is good, and we’re getting a lot more military members to join.”
Levin pointed out that “the real danger” is not that the Klan “will be some kind of widespread army that has tentacles across the United States. That’s not going to happen. But what we do have to worry about are individuals, autonomous cells, or duos committing terrorist acts on their own because they get training, they get inspiration, and they get know how from being in the orbit of these hate groups.”
The Klan as an “holistic entity” doesn’t represent a “significant widespread threat” to the United States, but “loose radicals coming out of that orbit, represents a threat to the United States.”
Reviving the Justice Department’s Domestic Terror Unit
In response to the rise in the number of incidents of domestic terrorism, Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced reestablishment of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee within the Department of Justice: “As President Obama has said, after years of strong and effective anti-terror efforts post-9/11, the United States has significantly reduced the threats we face from core al Qaeda.
However, the threat posed by Islamic extremist satellite groups — from al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, to al-Shabaab in Somalia — and individuals inspired by their violent ideology remains a significant concern. We must remain vigilant against this threat both here and around the world.
“But we also must concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that the domestic terror unit within the Justice Department “met regularly for quite a few years, and apparently, was rather useful, at least in coordinating agency’s response to the threat, and was scheduled to meet, literally, on the morning of 9/11. Of course that was canceled after the Al Qaeda attacks, and the committee never met again.”
Potok pointed out that “All of the studies by terrorism experts show that in the last few years, this kind of [domestic] terrorism has become more of a threat than at least homegrown Jihadist terrorism and really in terms of numbers of people killed by various types of terrorists. Since 9/11, we have seen more of that [from the] domestic radical right.”
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