UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY(U//FOUO)Rightwing Extremism:Current Economic and PoliticalClimate Fueling Resurgence inRadicalization and RecruitmentIA-0257-09UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY(U//FOUO) Rightwing Extremism: CurrentEconomic and Political Climate FuelingResurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment7 April 2009(U) Prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat AnalysisDivision. Coordinated with the FBI.(U) Scope(U//FOUO) This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by theExtremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of thephenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information isprovided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcementofficials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacksagainst the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must beconducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United StatesGovernment sponsorship.(U) LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION NOTICE: This product contains Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information. No portion of the LES informationshould be released to the media, the general public, or over non-secure Internet servers. Release of this information could adversely affect or jeopardizeinvestigative activities.(U) Warning: This document is UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (U//FOUO). It contains information that may be exempt from public release under theFreedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). It is to be controlled, stored, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS policy relating toFOUO information and is not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know without prior approval of an authorizedDHS official. State and local homeland security officials may share this document with authorized security personnel without further approval from DHS.(U) All U.S. person information has been minimized. Should you require the minimized U.S. person information, please contact the DHS/I&A Production Branch [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY(U) Key Findings(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specificinformation that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears aboutseveral emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the firstAfrican American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization andrecruitment.— (U//LES) Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groupsduring 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carryout violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economicdownturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inabilityto obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwingextremists and even result in confrontations between such groups andgovernment authorities similar to those in the past.— (U//LES) Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the firstAfrican American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit newmembers, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appealthrough propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.(U//FOUO) The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by aneconomic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat toU.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.— (U//FOUO) During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in thenumber of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase inviolent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks,and infrastructure sectors.— (U//FOUO) Growth of these groups subsided in reaction to increasedgovernment scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing anddisrupted plots, improvements in the economy, and the continued U.S. standingas the preeminent world power.(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return ofmilitary veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communitiescould lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremistscapable of carrying out violent attacks.*(U) Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, andadherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups),and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, orrejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to asingle issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 2 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY— (U//FOUO) Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons banslikely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups,as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training forviolence against the government. The high volume of purchases andstockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipationof restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primaryconcern to law enforcement.— (U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that areattractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwingextremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order toboost their violent capabilities.(U) Current Economic and Political Climate(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors aredriving a resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity.Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the threat posed by lone wolves and smallterrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years. In addition, the historical election ofan African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be adriving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.— (U) A recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwingextremism may be found in the shooting deaths of three police officers inPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009. The alleged gunman’s reactionreportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernmentconspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and aJewish-controlled “one world government.”(U) Exploiting Economic Downturn(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on theeconomy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors,and home foreclosures. Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberateconspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish “financial elites.” These “accusatory” tacticsare employed to draw new recruits into rightwing extremist groups and further radicalizethose already subscribing to extremist beliefs. DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely toaccelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.(U) Historical Presidential Election(U//LES) Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitmenttool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidentialadministration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration andcitizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearmsUNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 3 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concernsand leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to thepresent, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices inexpanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potentialsympathizers.— (U//LES) Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical,expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president,but stopping short of calls for violent action. In two instances in the run-up to theelection, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of somethreatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcementinterceded.(U) Revisiting the 1990s(U//FOUO) Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibilityand recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’sopposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly thosewith Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties aswell as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion,inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed tothe growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and anincrease in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks,and infrastructure sectors.(U) Economic Hardship and Extremism(U//FOUO) Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, andanticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominentantigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impendingeconomic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and toattract recruits during times of economic uncertainty. Conspiracy theories involvingdeclarations of martial law, impending civil strife or racial conflict, suspension of theU.S. Constitution, and the creation of citizen detention camps often incorporate aspects ofa failed economy. Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies couldmotivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons.These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremistindividuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations andextremist members of the militia movement.(U//FOUO) Perceptions on Poverty and Radicalization(U//FOUO) Scholars and experts disagree over poverty’s role in motivating violent radicalization orterrorist activity. High unemployment, however, has the potential to lead to alienation, thus increasingan individual’s susceptibility to extremist ideas. According to a 2007 study from the German Institutefor Economic Research, there appears to be a strong association between a parent’s unemploymentstatus and the formation of rightwing extremist beliefs in their children—specifically xenophobia andantidemocratic ideals.UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 4 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY(U) Illegal Immigration(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perceptionthat illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness towork at significantly lower wages. They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing thatthese arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico.(U//FOUO) Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias andwhite supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point,and recruiting tool. Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policygenerally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment,but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directedagainst specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over aperceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to inciteindividuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likelywould be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.— (U//FOUO) DHS/I&A notes that prominent civil rights organizations haveobserved an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years.— (U) In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons andexplosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested haddiscussed and conducted surveillance for a machinegun attack on Hispanics.— (U) A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 aftercommunicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrantscrossing into the United States.(U) Legislative and Judicial Drivers(U//FOUO) Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as athreat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunitionstockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises. Suchactivity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential tofacilitate criminal activity and violence.— (U//FOUO) During the 1990s, rightwing extremist hostility toward governmentwas fueled by the implementation of restrictive gun laws—such as the Brady Lawthat established a 5-day waiting period prior to purchasing a handgun and the1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that limited the sale ofvarious types of assault rifles—and federal law enforcement’s handling of theconfrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 5 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY— (U//FOUO) On the current front, legislation has been proposed this yearrequiring mandatory registration of all firearms in the United States. Similarlegislation was introduced in 2008 in several states proposing mandatory taggingand registration of ammunition. It is unclear if either bill will be passed into law;nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun controllegislation and increased hoarding of ammunition, weapons stockpiling, andparamilitary training activities among rightwing extremists.(U//FOUO) Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurredrightwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans—to make bulk purchases ofammunition. These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, furtherexacerbating rightwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity.Both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime ratesattributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise moveat this time.(U//FOUO) Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contestedsubjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District ofColumbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual’s right to keep and beararms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate theprecise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, andparties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violentextremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalizationtool.(U) Perceived Threat from Rise of Other Countries(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist paranoia of foreign regimes could escalate or bemagnified in the event of an economic crisis or military confrontation, harkening back tothe “New World Order” conspiracy theories of the 1990s. The dissolution of Communistcountries in Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led somerightwing extremists to believe that a “New World Order” would bring about a worldgovernment that would usurp the sovereignty of the United States and its Constitution,thus infringing upon their liberty. The dynamics in 2009 are somewhat similar, as othercountries, including China, India, and Russia, as well as some smaller, oil-producingstates, are experiencing a rise in economic power and influence.— (U//FOUO) Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theoriescharacterizing the U.S. Government’s role as either complicit in a foreigninvasion or acquiescing as part of a “One World Government” plan inspiredextremist members of the militia movement to target government and militaryfacilities in past years.— (U//FOUO) Law enforcement in 1996 arrested three rightwing militia membersin Battle Creek, Michigan with pipe bombs, automatic weapons, and militaryUNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 6 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYordnance that they planned to use in attacks on nearby military and federalfacilities and infrastructure targets.— (U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature andhave recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capabilityto China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these topressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate andcorporations as a part of subversion strategy.(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit andradicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived frommilitary training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost thecapabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry outviolence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremistgroups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering fromthe psychological effects of war is being replicated today.— (U) After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning militaryveterans—including Timothy McVeigh—joined or associated with rightwingextremist groups.— (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbersof potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are nowlearning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”— (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movementthat some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan havejoined extremist groups.(U//FOUO) Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwingextremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Informationfrom law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terroristcells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.— (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the mostsignificant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate fromany formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.— (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of thedangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lonewolves carrying out acts of violence.— (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas,and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergenceof small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLYPage 7 of 9

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY(U) Outlook(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echothe 1990s, including heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms restrictions andreturning military veterans, as well as several new trends, includ