Monday, March 29, 2010

FBI, DHS target violent right-wing Christian group in MI, OH, IN

The Detroit News reports:

At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said.

The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday.

On Sunday, a source close to the investigation in Washington, D.C. confirmed that FBI agents were conducting activities in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties over the weekend in connection to Hutaree, a Christian militia group. Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold told The Detroit News the federal warrants in the case are under court seal and declined further comment.

Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ...

The Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are also involved in the raids.

Obviously, there's a lot we don't yet know about this.

And, obviously, as a liberal who is deeply concerned with the protection of civil liberties and who is generally suspicious of such action, I do not want to applaud what could very well be heavy-handed and perhaps even misguided law enforcement activities.

But let me just say this: For all the focus of Islamic jihadism, which indeed deserves such focus, it's about time Americans woke up and realized that one of the truly gravest threats to their country comes from within, from far-right militia groups, usually linked either to Nazism or to Christianity (or to both).

They believe in sheer nonsense, of course, and yet they believe in it fervently. They are un-American -- and anti-American -- zealots, and utterly insane. In the case of extremist Christian groups like this one (Hutaree), they are radical fundamentalists who reject liberal democracy, and secularism generally, in favour of a violent end-times theology.

(I don't want to link to the group here, but TalkLeft and Gawker have some links.)

On the problem of extremist groups generally, here's the Southern Poverty Law Center's take, via Digby:
The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, antigovernment conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Antigovernment "Patriot" groups -- militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy -- came roaring back to life over the past year after more than a decade out of the limelight.

The SPLC documented a 244 percent increase in the number of active Patriot groups in 2009. Their numbers grew from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, an astonishing addition of 363 new groups in a single year. Militias -- the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement -- were a major part of the increase, growing from 42 militias in 2008 to 127 in 2009.

The terrorist who was behind the attacks on Democratic offices last week, Mike Vanderboegh, points to the Hutaree's "nuttery over the past two years" but also threatens violent counter-action:

If, God forbid, shots had been exchanged, people killed, or buildings burned down a la Waco, we would be looking at a nationwide mobilization and civil war.

"No more free Wacos," stresses Vanderboegh as a rallying cry. But if an extremist group like this emerges as a real threat to law and order -- and it seems this one was considered to be too extreme, too much of a loose cannon, even by other extremist groups -- it must be taken down.

A tolerant society should only tolerate so much.

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