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Experts: Militia groups increase nationwide

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some experts say the number of militia groups has grown nationwide. While all do not all have identical ideologies, there generally are some common threads.

The last suspect in a plot kill police was arraigned in federal court Tuesday.

Joshua Stone, 21, will be held without bond until a hearing Wednesday. He peacefully surrendered Tuesday night in Michigan.

Authorities say the group plotted to kill police in hopes of touching off an uprising.

The Hutaree militia group's alleged plan to wage war on the government by killing police officers has produced condemnation from other militia groups. One such group, the Indiana Militia Corps, says, "We do not condone or engage in unlawful activity." One of that group's leaders says of the Hutaree, "We wouldn't touch those guys with a ten foot pole."

"It doesn't take a lot of fringe elements in a country this size to do an enormous amount of damage," said Tom Mockaitis, professor of history and terrorism expert, DePaul University.

Mockaitis and others say that the number of militia groups nationwide has grown.

While all do not all have identical ideologies, there generally are some common threads - distrust of a federal government seen as too powerful, anger over taxes and a poor economy and, in many cases, Mockaitis suggests a racial component - resistance to an African American in the White House.

"What worries me is not the lunatic fringe. It's the larger core of soft support in which these fish can swim, and say they draw energy from this larger pool of anger," said Mockaitis.

"Their perception that the government is controlling. Health care would be a perfect example, the bailout of the banks, the government's taking over. And they see that as a rallying point and a recruiting point. It only takes one charismatic leader to get this following and the word spreads out and their ranks swell," said Robert Holle, FBI counter-terrorism special agent in charge.

The FBI has long actively tracked militia groups. Authorities say they moved in to make the Hutaree arrests because the threat was imminent. Whether the number of groups or their degree of militancy is up, investigators say domestic fringe groups recruit in much the same way as their international counter-parts.

"We're constantly saying to the Muslim world, you need to step up here and condemn this radical Islamic Jihadism and they have. Well, we need to follow our own advice because this is domestic Christian fundamental terrorism," said Mockaitis.

On Tuesday, a number of militia groups on their Web sites have disavowed the alleged plan of the Hutaree. But that condemnation is also accompanied by a warning. One Alabama militia leader writes that no matter how crazy or despicable the Hutaree may be, the government remains arrogant, and had best not engage in force.

The U.S. attorney in Detroit says the Hutaree had to be taken down because they were about to engage in force.

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