After a six-month investigation into America's militia movements, Time reporter Barton Gellman has discovered that "recruiting, planning, training and explicit calls for a shooting war are on the rise" among patriot groups across America. The organizations appear "readier for bloodshed than at any time since at least the confrontations in the 1990s in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas," writes Gellman. Here are some of the main takeaways from the article:
Four assassination plots on Obama...
The rise in activity among militia groups is precisely related to the "tectonic shifts in American politics that allowed a black man with a foreign-sounding name and a Muslim-born father to reach the White House," says Gellman. Indeed, four assassination plots on Obama were unveiled in Pennsylvania, Denver, Tennessee and North Carolina before he was even sworn in as president. Obama continues to be a "rallying point for dormant extremists."
... and one on David Axelrod
James von Brunn, the white supremacist who shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. last summer, originally had another target in mind, discovers Gellman. According to "authoritative sources," von Brunn was planning to assassinate White House senior adviser David Axelrod. An armed extremist with the "motive, means and intent" to kill one of the president's closest advisers "sent a jolt throught the FBI and Department of Homeland Security."
The would-be D.C. dirty bomber
After far-right extremist James Cummings was shot dead by his wife in December 2008, the FBI discovered a bomb-making factory in his Maine home. This news — and Cummings' stated intent to create a dirty bomb to explode in Washington, D.C. — was revealed and downplayed by police in January 2009. But Cummings was actually "more advanced in his efforts than any previously known domestic threat involving a dirty bomb," finds Gellman. Thanks to a $2 million private fortune, Cummings was able to collect all the ingredients for TATP, a "hellishly energetic" explosive used by Middle Eastern suicide bombers. It was only a matter of time before he succeeded in his efforts, say officials. If [Cummings' wife] didn't do what she did," says Maine state police detective Michael McFadden, "maybe we would know Mr. Cummings a lot better than we do right now."
Police as part of the problem
The FBI are concerned with a growing number of insubordinate law enforcement officials who "vow to refuse or resist orders they deem unconstitutional," writes Gellman. Perhaps a dozen candidates for sheriff around the nation in the upcoming elections have said they will arrest or violently oppose federal officials in their districts. Among their number is Steve Kendley of Lake County, Montana who tells Time he is ready for a "violent conflict" if federal agents do "something I believe is unconstitutional."
The biggest threat
The FBI's greatest concern is that one of the many active patriot groups — most of whom will do nothing beyond survival training — will produce a "lone wolf, trained and indocrinated for war," who will grow tired of waiting for the government takeover to begin. All this "ceaseless talk of federal aggression" can an unhinged person to "go off the rails, a la [Timothy] McVeigh," a counterterrorism official tells Time.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Vox, derp, and the intellectual stagnation of the left
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Pope Francis' American problem
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why TheWeek.com is closing the comments section
- A brief history of the Christmas present
Subscribe to the Week