The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The bombing by antigovernment zealot Timothy McVeigh and several co-conspirators shocked the nation, awakening it to the threat of terrorism from far-right extremists. It remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
Today, the threat from extremists like McVeigh remains very real.
The SPLC has documented a powerful resurgence of the extremist movement that motivated McVeigh. In fact, the movement has spawned numerous acts of terror and violence in recent years.
The SPLC today offers both a look at the movement’s history and an assessment of the current threat:
- MSNBC: “20 years after Oklahoma City bombing, domestic terror threat remains,” by SPLC President Richard Cohen.
- POLITICO: “Don’t Ignore the Homegrown Terror Threat,” by SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok.
- An SPLC timeline of the militia movement.
- Terror from the Right, a list of more than 100 domestic terrorist attacks, plots and racist rampages since Oklahoma City.
Also, here’s SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok discussing his personal experience as a reporter on the scene in Oklahoma City, as well as the current state of the militia movement:
Editor’s Note: This essay by SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok was written for, and originally posted at, Politico.
Less than six hours after a 7,000-pound truck bomb ripped through the Oklahoma City federal building 20 years ago this Sunday, self-described terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson already was on CBS News, speculating.
“Oklahoma City, I can tell you, is probably considered one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside the Middle East,” Emerson claimed, speaking while the building’s rubble still smoldered over the corpses of 168 men, women and children. The bombing, he declared, “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.” Emerson went on to instruct CBS’s audience not to believe Islamic groups’ denials of involvement.
The next day—still before any suspect was identified—an Iraqi refugee named Suhair Al Mosawi was at home a few miles from the city with her two-year-old daughter when a hail of bricks smashed her windows. Seven months pregnant, the terrified Muslim woman fled with her child to a bathroom, where she began to miscarry. Racing to the hospital a short while later, according to an account in The Boston Globe, her husband asked her to take off her veil, hoping to avoid still more abuse.
It was an ugly lesson that Americans would do well to remember. ( continue to full post… )
A Pennsylvania supporter of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has pleaded guilty in federal court to threatening a Bureau of Land Management enforcement official during Bundy’s armed standoff last year with federal officials.
Will Michael, 24, pleaded guilty this week to threatening a federal law enforcement official as well as making interstate communication threats, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. He will be sentenced in July.
While Michael did not travel to Nevada during the April 12, 2014, standoff, he did leave a profanity-strewn telephone message with Mike Roop, the chief Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger for Washington and Oregon, in which he said, “We’re going to kill you,” according to federal court documents cited by The Times.
Bundy, who last weekend celebrated the anniversary of his standoff with BLM agents, seemed concerned that this would send a troubling message to his supporters. Michael is the first person arrested or charged in connection with the Bundy case, despite widespread calls across the nation for justice.
“I’m concerned,” Bundy told the Times. “It looks to me like they’re looking for someone easy to pick on. This guy was back in Pennsylvania. He wasn’t even out here in Nevada. I don’t even know what he said.” He added, “It sort of seems like this could be the government’s first move – I hope not.”
After the standoff, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a special report that, based on interviews with militia commanders on scene that day, documented a plan to coordinate the dozens of militias that responded to Bundy’s call for help, the Bundy family and other supporters to face off with the BLM.
A right-wing extremist group is believed to have leaked the home addresses of dozens of former and current employees of the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBS is reporting.
The list, which was uploaded to QuickLeak, a website designed for content to be leaked anonymously, also included the addresses of political figures such as former DHS head Janet Napolitano, Arizona Gov. Douglas Ducey and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The group, which has not yet been identified, also published addresses it claims the CIA uses for field operations in the United States.
While the identity of the group is unknown, the language on the site is filled with conspiracy theories and rhetoric often employed by members of the antigovernment movement.
“LET THESE EVIL NOW SATANISTS KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY FOR THEIR 911 TREASON, AND THEIR FUTURE FEMA CAMP PLANNED PUBLIC CRACKDOWN TREASON,” the first several lines of the document read. “ALSO JESUS IS LORD, AND THE PUBLIC IS IN CHARGE, NOT THESE SATANIC NWO [New World Order] STOOGES.”
References to the “New World Order” and a secret government plan to intern American citizens in domestic prison camps are central tenants of the antigovernment movement, which believes that the federal government has become the enemy of the people. Several names, including Giuliani’s and an alleged CIA official named Richard Blee are labeled as “9-11 Traitors.”
According to CBS, the DHS has responded with concern.
“The safety of our workforce is always a primary concern,” the agency said in a written statement. “DHS has notified employees who were identified in the posting and encouraged them to be vigilant. DHS will adjust security measures, as appropriate, to protect our employees.”
They gathered on a sandy wash not far from the site of where an angry standoff took place one year ago when the radical right came to the aid of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government. Bundy’s supporters, militiamen and antigovernment “Patriots,” spent this past weekend near his ranch celebrating, as their T-shirts printed for the occasion proclaimed, “Victory Over Oppression.”
Designed to be a “Liberty Celebration,” cowboy poets, musicians and speakers from as far away as Florida spent the weekend playing in the Virgin River, eating hamburgers made with Bundy beef and camping on public lands once heavily patrolled by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents.
But not anymore.
One year after hundreds of heavily armed antigovernment “Patriots” swarmed the Nevada desert to help rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government – an event that nearly ended in bloodshed – the Bundy family is ready again.
Beginning on Friday, the family plans to hold a three-day celebration to mark the anniversary of the April 12, 2014, standoff with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents, and the subsequent decision by the federal government to abandon efforts to confiscate Bundy’s cattle as payment for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
Dubbed “the Battle of Bunkerville” by the antigovernment movement, the standoff led to widespread animus toward the federal government in a movement already fixated on conspiracy theories that covered everything from the secret introduction of endangered desert tortoises to push Bundy of public lands, to the idea that the federal government had secret plans with the Chinese government to turn large swaths of Nevada into solar farms.
In the months after the standoff, patriot paranoia spread across the American West, too – a trend that was documented in a Southern Poverty Law Center special investigative report, War in the West, that tracked the spread of Bundy’s ideas and revealed that the April 12 standoff was part of an orchestrated, planned militia effort, not an organic uprising of populist fury.
The Bundy’s have said the weekend celebration will include camping, hiking, shooting, cowboy poetry and a barbecue. Speakers at the weekend celebration include former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, Nye County (Nevada) Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and Nevada Councilwoman Michelle Fiore, who has taken on Bundy’s fight with the feds in the state legislature. Bundy will deliver remarks about the last year on Saturday evening.
The anniversary of the Bundy standoff is more than a moment of celebration for the antigovernment movement, though. It is also a reminder that a year has passed during which the federal government has done nothing to hold Bundy accountable for those who committed crimes that day, and has let Bundy stand in bold defiance of a federal court order.
The BLM has yet to respond to dozens of requests in the last year for comment.
A group of self-described “Patriots” showed up at the Washington state Capitol building last weekend, demanding the removal of the “communist” flag of China from the flagpoles in front of the rotunda. When a state employee arrived and took the flag down, with assistance from a state trooper, they then claimed victory.
However, according to a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the flag – being flown to honor a visit from China’s U.S. ambassador, Cui Tiankai, who met with Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday – had been scheduled to come down on Saturday anyway. The man shown in a video posted by the “Patriots” bringing the flag down was a state employee, and he stored the flag afterward as he would normally.
Nonetheless, the video shows the glee of the protesters, who proclaim the state trooper one of their own: “Now that’s an oath keeper there,” says Anthony Bosworth, the leader of the protest. “Making sure the communist flag comes down. That’s an officer I can support.” Then they stood at attention with their Tea Party “Gadsden” flags until the flag was fully down.
At Fox News Insider, the flag removal was touted with the headline, “Patriots Helped Take Down Communist China Flag at a US State Capitol,” while a similar headline over a story at the Washington Times likewise described the removal as something inspired by the protesters.
WSP spokesman Robert Calkins said the flag was originally scheduled to come down last weekend, and when the trooper noticed the protesters, he contacted groundskeepers and ascertained that the flag was scheduled to come down that morning, so they simply expedited the process to avert any conflict.
“On Monday, the Scottish flag was flying,” noted Calkins. He said the standard state protocol is to fly the flag of any nation recognized by the United States government when a dignitary from that nation visits the Capitol. China is Washington state’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade between the two totaling well over $20 billion annually. It’s also the state’s largest export-business client, with China consuming over $15 billion in goods produced in the state each year, notably agricultural products such as apples.
Bosworth and his gang of protesters are becoming familiar sights to the state’s law-enforcement officers. In February, he led a group of about 50 gun-rights protesters in a failed attempt to get arrested by bringing their guns inside the statehouse chambers while the Legislature was in session, though they did so on a day when the Legislature was not in session. In March, he led a similar protest outside the doors of the federal courthouse in Spokane, which likewise led to no arrests.
Authorities say a Michigan couple – both school bus drivers – face assorted felony charges after they allegedly embezzled money to purchase an arsenal of weapons that included a machine gun and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Steve Nick, 33, and his wife, Sarah, 32, of Davison Township, both belong to the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. Steven Nick is a gunner for the militia and Sarah Nick is as a medic and grenadier, WNEM-TV in Saginaw reported.
The couple was arrested on March 27 on a combined total of 15 felony charges, including embezzlement, larceny by conversation, unlawful use of a credit card and possession of an illegally shortened firearm. The arrests came after an 8-month investigation that started when law enforcement received a tip about the abuse of an elder.
The Nicks were released on bond and are scheduled to appear tomorrow at a probable cause hearing.
“In all my 16 years this is probably the most unusual case we’ve had,” the sheriff told the Saginaw television station. “If they were going to attack they would have been well armed and would have out manned any police agency in Genesee County.”
The sheriff said the couple allegedly embezzled more than $50,000 from Sarah Nick’s 67-year-old mother to buy the arsenal they stored in a bunker in the basement of their home. The arsenal included a 50-caliber machine gun, a sniper rifle with a suppressor, 17,000 rounds of ammunition, various firearm accessories and bulletproof vests, including one for their 9-year-old daughter.
The sheriff’s office investigating the couple began in August 2014 after an elder abuse task force discovered that the suspects allegedly were writing checks to themselves drawn on accounts belonging to Sarah Nick’s mother, who was ill.
Pickell said detectives discovered the weapons in a bunker, accessible through a wall in the basement, and a Gadsden “Liberty or Die” flag hanging in their bedroom.
The suspects worked as school bus drivers for Davison and Flint school districts.
After her arrest, Sarah Nick was fired from her job. Steven Nick’s current status with the Davison school district is unknown, according to media reports.
Authorities in Missouri say a heavily armed man with antigovernment views and a “Rambo” personality threatened to kill police officers and expressed hatred of blacks and Muslims before his arrest Wednesday in St. Louis.
David Michael Hagler, 53, who lived on food stamps and part-time work as a landscaper, faces four federal firearms charges, including illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and an unregistered machine gun. He is being held without bond until a preliminary hearing next week, according to court document information.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that FBI agents and police bomb squad teams spent Thursday searching for booby traps in two adjacent St. Louis homes where informants said Hagler had stockpiles of guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and had talked of “mass attacks on (police) officers at funerals or fundraisers.”
Investigators wearing body armor used at least three robots during the search of the properties in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood, near Halls Ferry Circle. They feared an underground tunnel connected the two houses, and that Hagler had put steel plates in exterior walls in the event of a shootout with police.
Results of the search weren’t disclosed. A federal court affidavit describing the evidence against Hagler has been sealed from public inspection.
The FBI in St. Louis did not immediately return a call from Hatewatch, nor did the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Media reports suggest the suspect’s antigovernment and anti-police views were growing and that his arrest may have thwarted a potential tragedy.
“The law enforcement action being taken you might describe as proactive in terms of trying to address something before something worse happens,” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan told the St. Louis newspaper.
One of two informants told investigators that Hagler “had a seething hatred for his ex-wife and was becoming more agitated after events in Ferguson and in fear of losing his homes because of unpaid taxes,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
That same informer described Hagler as a very intelligent survivalist type whose goal was to live off the grid while holding “extreme anti-government and anti-law enforcement views,” the newspaper reported.
Court records show Hagler has a criminal history going back 35 years. One of his first arrests was for selling marijuana to an undercover officer. He wasn’t convicted of those charges, but subsequently faced other marijuana charges, domestic violence and assaulting neighbors with firearms.
In early March, a package filled with grief and pride was left on the doorstep of Tracy Jahr and her spouse, Jacquie Gilmore. Wrapped in cardboard and plastic, the package weighed nearly 20 pounds. The women had been waiting for it for years.
Inside was a bronze grave marker that read: “Michael Brett Roark US Army Dec 23 1991 + Dec 6 2011 Cavalry Scout.”
“At first I was angry when I saw it,” Jahr told Hatewatch last week from her home in Washington State. “I was flabbergasted. I felt, really, after all this time. The Army has been dragging its feet from the beginning. That’s why the kids are dead. But at least the marker is some recognition, recognition that Michael was a soldier. He wanted to be a one since he was a little boy.”
Roark was Jahr’s son and, like any parent, she worried she might never see him alive again when he joined the Army. The war on terror was raging overseas.
Her worst fears were realized two and a half weeks shy of her son’s 20th birthday when he was lured into an ambush, forced to his knees and shot in the head by terrorists. But he was not killed in the dusty streets of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan. Roark was killed in the Georgia woods, along with his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, by a group of domestic terrorists, a renegade band of American soldiers, jacked up on drugs, PTSD nightmares and delusional plans to overthrow the government of the United States.
The killer soldiers have all been held to account, the ringleaders sentenced to life in prison for murdering the young sweethearts to keep the group’s plans secret. But Jahr and the family of York say it is time – past time – for the Army to also be held to account for allowing the homegrown terrorists to organize and grow right before its eyes, on the Fort Stewart military base, into a deadly antigovernment militia called FEAR. The group was led by a troubled but charismatic 19-year-old Pvt. Isaac Aguigui.
The families are suing the United States, arguing that Army commanders should have – and could have on numerous occasions – intervened in FEAR’s activities long before their children were killed in what the suit describes as “a heartbreakingly preventable tragedy.”
A few days after her son’s grave marker arrived, Jahr learned that a federal judge in Seattle had set a July 2016 trial date for the civil wrongful death lawsuit, which, in chilling detail, claims that “Army officials recklessly allowed FEAR to form and fester within its ranks at Fort Stewart, Georgia, despite abundant signs that Pvt. Aguigui and his cohorts were dangerous and mentally unstable soldiers in desperate need of arrest and treatment.”
In court papers, lawyers for the government replied to the suit, maintaining, “[T]he United States denies said allegations and puts the Plaintiffs to their proof.”
A First Murder Missed
Jahr and her ex-husband, Brett Roark, with the parents of York, Brenda Thomas and Thomas’ ex-husband, Timothy York, allege in their lawsuit that the most significant failure by the Army in preventing the wrongful death of their children “was also the most shocking.”
On July 17, 2011 – almost six months before Roark and York were killed – Aguigui murdered his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui, who was six months pregnant at the time. He strangled her in their home on Fort Stewart. Even before her death, the suit contends, “The Army was aware that Isaac and Deirdre Aguigui had a violent and troubled marriage.” Just three months before she died, according to the lawsuit, the sergeant went to see Fort Stewart’s lead advocate for victims of domestic violence and reported that she was “the victim of physical and verbal abuse by her husband, Pvt. Aguigui.”
“Like the murders of Roark and York,” the suit claims, “this was a preventable tragedy that should not have occurred.”
At the time of her death, the lawsuit says, “Sgt. Aguigui’s body showed signs of a struggle, including more than twenty bruises and scrapes on her wrists, arms, head, back and inside her mouth, as well as signs of a sexual assault.”
Army investigators initially suspected foul play. But when an autopsy, conducted by what the suit characterizes as an inexperienced military medical examiner, proved inconclusive as to the cause of death, Aguigui was not charged and the Army soon paid him more than $500,000 in military death benefits.
Aguigui used the money to fund FEAR, which stands for, “Forever Enduring, Always Ready.” ( continue to full post… )