As inflammatory rhetoric and ideological warfare threaten the very pillars of democracy, true patriots must join the battle armed with facts, not deadly weapons and destructive plots. Anti-government “Patriot” groups that engage in domestic terrorism are a real threat to our Republic.
Read this story from Huffington Post Crime about an anarchist militia group under indictment in Georgia, then take a look at the DHS report on Muslim extremism and home grown terrorists discussed in the Economist. Notice any similarities?
From The Huffington Post
Military Terror Plot: Murder Case Uncovers Terror Plot By ‘Militia’ Within U.S. Military
By RUSS BYNUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS
LUDOWICI, Ga. — Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.
Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group of active and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components. They allege the group was serious enough to kill two people – former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York – by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.
“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”
One of the Fort Stewart soldiers charged in the case, Pfc. Michael Burnett, also gave testimony that backed up many of the assertions made by prosecutors. The 26-year-old soldier pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter, illegal gang activity and other charges. He made a deal to cooperate with prosecutors against the three other soldiers.
Prosecutors said the group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. Pauley said authorities don’t know how many members it had.
Burnett, 26, said he knew the group’s leaders from serving with them at Fort Stewart. He agreed to testify against fellow soldiers Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, identified by prosecutors as the militia’s founder and leader, and Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon.
All are charged by state authorities with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony. A hearing for the three soldiers was scheduled Thursday.
Prosecutors say Roark, 19, served with the four defendants in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and became involved with the militia. Pauley said the group believed it had been betrayed by Roark, who left the Army two days before he was killed, and decided the ex-soldier and his girlfriend needed to be silenced.
Burnett testified that on the night of Dec. 4, he and the three other soldiers lured Roark and York to some woods a short distance from the Army post under the guise that they were going target shooting. He said Peden shot Roark’s girlfriend in the head while she was trying to get out of her car. Salmon, he said, made Roark get on his knees and shot him twice in the head. Burnett said Aguigui ordered the killings.
“A `loose end’ is the way Isaac put it,” Burnett said.
Aguigui’s attorney, Daveniya Fisher, did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press. Attorneys for Peden and Salmon both declined to comment Monday.
Also charged in the killings is Salmon’s wife, Heather Salmon. Her attorney, Charles Nester, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Pauley said Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Aguigui was not charged in his wife’s death, but Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”
She said Aguigui used the money to buy $87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, other guns and bomb components that were recovered from the accused soldiers’ homes and from a storage locker. He also used the insurance payments to buy land for his militia group in Washington state, Pauley said.
In a videotaped interview with military investigators, Pauley said, Aguigui called himself “the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet.” He used the Army to recruit militia members, who wore distinctive tattoos that resemble an anarchy symbol, she said. Prosecutors say they have no idea how many members belong to the group.
“All members of the group were on active-duty or were former members of the military,” Pauley said. “He targeted soldiers who were in trouble or disillusioned.”
The prosecutor said the militia group had big plans. It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said the Army has dropped its own charges against the four soldiers in the slayings of Roark and York. The Military authorities filed their charges in March but never acted on them. Fort Stewart officials Monday refused to identify the units the accused soldiers served in and their jobs within those units.
“Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield does not have a gang or militia problem,” Larson said in a prepared statement, though he said Army investigators still have an open investigation in the case.
“However, we don’t believe there are any unknown subjects,” he said.
District Attorney Tom Durden said his office has been sharing information with federal authorities, but no charges have been filed in federal court. Jim Durham, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, would not comment on whether a case is pending.
From The Economist
The benefits of hindsight: The need for more monitoring of domestic terrorism
ON APRIL 7th 2009 a unit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged with monitoring domestic, non-Islamic terrorism released a paper warning that the economic downturn and the election of the first black president “present unique drivers for right-wing radicalisation and recruitment.” Other causes included fears over illegal immigration and the possibility of more restrictive gun laws, and the challenges faced by returning military veterans. It compared the economic and political climate of 2009 to that of the early 1990s, “when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fuelled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs and the perceived threat to U.S. power”; that period culminated in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled veteran who found a home in America’s right-wing fringe movements.
The report, released just as the “tea-party” movement was heating up, came under withering criticism from the right. Commentators complained that it unfairly placed conservatives under suspicion. John Boehner, the House Speaker, said it cast veterans as “potential terrorists”. Daryl Johnson, who headed the unit responsible for that report, said that DHS promptly caved in to the pressure. Within months his unit, which had six-full time analysts and two supplemental staff—fewer by far than the team that monitored Islamic threats—was gutted, “out of malice and risk aversion”, Mr Johnson maintains, and out of fear of politically motivated budget cuts. Training and publications were cut too.
Nor is this imbalance limited to the DHS: since coming under Republican control in 2010, the House Homeland Security Committee has held five hearings on Muslim radicalisation, and none on right-wing threats. Yet America’s right-wing extremists commit a vastly greater number of murderous attacks (though leading to fewer deaths) than Muslims do. According to the Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, between 1990 and 2010 right-wing extremists carried out 145 murderous attacks, resulting in 348 deaths, 168 of which resulted from the Oklahoma City bombing. During that same time period Muslim extremists committed around 25 attacks, which killed over 3,000 people; but 9/11 accounted for 2,977 of these.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), which monitors right-wing extremists, saw the number of such groups wane during the 2000s, before soaring back following the election of Barack Obama and the economic downturn, as Mr Johnson predicted: by the end of 2011 it counted 1,274 anti-government “Patriot” groups, far more than existed in the mid-1990s and up from a nadir of 131 just four years earlier.
The murder of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Wisconsin by a white supremacist earlier this month brought calls to redress this balance. But talking about right-wing extremist threatens howls of protest. Nice idea, shame about the politics.