Pass Em’ Right: Assessing the Threat of WMD Terrorism from America’s Christian Patriots

Pass Em’ Right: Assessing the Threat of WMD Terrorism from America’s Christian Patriots

 by Paul D. Brister and Nina A. Kollars

Abstract

Within the field of terrorism studies, great effort has been devoted to the topic of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their potential usage in the hands of terrorist organisations. This article deepens the discussion of WMD terrorism by focusing upon an oft-overlooked movement that resides within American borders. The Christian Patriot Movement – which rightfully claims the likes of Timothy McVeigh – is a phenomenon that has gone largely unnoticed as American counterterrorism efforts focus largely upon Islamist terrorist organizations. Here we aim to bring the Patriots back into discussions of terrorist threats by assessing their potential to use WMD. We conclude that, although the Patriots have demonstrated intent to employ such weapons, they lack the overall capability to design, acquire, or employ a WMD of significant lethality. We end by looking at the pathways which the Patriots are currently exploring to narrow the divide between intent and capability.      

Introduction

As students and scholars of terrorism studies, we may be doing a disservice to analysis.  For far too long, we have crowded around our single-lens telescopes, jotting down notes and hypothesizing about what terrorist threats will originate from across the seas.  From these studies, we have convinced ourselves that home-grown terrorist threats largely resemble the images found in our telescopes.  In doing so we may have confused the specific for the general, the narrowly construed for the full range of possible cases.  It is time we step back from these telescopes, open both eyes, and look out our own windows.

Alongside well-studied Islamist terrorists, the United States is threatened by a loose affiliation of armed groups linked by a belief that the federal government has intentionally undermined the founding principles of liberty, democracy, and Christianity. This amorphous network, commonly referred to as the Christian Patriot Movement, is an eclectic blend of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, survivalists, militia members, and Christian Identity adherents. The aim of the network is, at its most basic level, the marginalisation or destruction of its ‘enemies’ – immigrants, Jews, African Americans, or the American government at large – and the establishment of a governmental system favouring a select elite. To the chagrin of many, the movement has witnessed a dramatic upsurge in both strength and size in recent years.[1] These trends are more troubling when coupled with indicators of Patriot willingness to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in future attacks. This article aims to understand and assess the actual scope of that threat.

WMD threat assessments are generally a synthesis of three factors; first, a terrorist group’s intent to use a WMD; second, a group’s capability to either acquire or develop WMD; and third, the vulnerability of the intended target. Target vulnerability being beyond the scope of this article, our focus is levelled primarily on Christian Patriot intent and capability. Because WMD is often a broad term, for the purposes of this article, it will be defined as any chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear device employed with the purpose to inflict harm upon either humans or physical structures. [2]

Lethality or economic impacts – often measured by body count or overall economic loss – will not be included in the definition, as it is possible to employ a WMD which may fall short of some apocalyptic effect. Take, for instance, Aum Shinrikyo’s 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Although sarin is universally considered a lethal chemical weapon, the attack resulted in twelve deaths. The attack was regrettable, but far less lethal than either the non-CBRN terrorist attack in Oklahoma City (168 dead) or the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York (over 2,700 dead). If a measure of lethality was used here, Aum’s employment of sarin gas may not make the cut as a WMD example – although it clearly is. Therefore, this article looks only at the physical characteristics of the weapon being developed or acquired, not at the potential outcomes of its use.

This article will proceed in four parts. As the Christian Patriot Movement is an often overlooked phenomenon in the world of Islamist-focused modern terrorism studies, an historical overview of the Patriots is provided to clarify its unique ideology and highlight the paths which led to its current highly atomised organisational manifestation. Next, we move forward with the assessment on three fronts. We first establish Patriot intent by tracing the key texts considered central to the ideology and its call to action. We emphasise the fact that Patriot groups have continually expressed a desire to acquire, develop, and employ WMD. We also examine the patterns of acquisition, since on multiple occasions Patriots have achieved a measurable degree of success in acquisition.

Secondly, we turn attention to what is understood to be the Achilles heel of the movement – its limited capabilities – by drilling down into the material and intellectual resources at their disposal, their organizational structure, and the extremely restricted operational freedom of maneuver given legal initiatives used against them. Intent without capability is a reason for concern but not necessarily intervention, and since a veritable chasm exists between the intent and capabilities of the Patriots, it is not yet time to sound alarms. That said, the article concludes by outlining a series of disturbing new trends that signal a potential bridging of the gap between Patriot intent and capabilities; scenarios which dramatically increase the potential for a WMD attack from the Patriot camp through an alliance with more capable groups. 

Origins of Christian Patriotism

When scholars and political leaders speak of terrorist threats emanating from the American radical right, they most commonly refer to the Christian Patriot Movement. As described by David Neiwert, the Patriot Movement is “an American political ideology based on an ultra-nationalistic and selective populism which seeks to return the nation to its ‘constitutional’ roots – that is, a system based on white Christian male rule.”[3]

This movement can be viewed as a loose umbrella ideology that incorporates – not necessarily in their entirety – at least three distinct and often competing sub-movements. [4] The first of these is the Militia movement, a fairly recent right-wing phenomenon that is home to several anti-government armed paramilitary groups. The second is the Sovereign Citizen movement, comprising Americans that formally renounce their US citizenship and refuse to pay taxes, citing it a violation of the parameters originally laid down by the Constitution. Lastly, a portion of the White Nationalist movement falls under the ideological tent of Christian Patriotism. True to name, White Nationalism is a biologically-racist belief system that seeks the establishment of an Aryan-controlled nation and – contingent upon the level of racism present in the particular organization – the subjugation, transfer, or violent elimination of ‘lesser’ races. [5] 

While traces of all three beliefs can be followed from the beginnings of American history, their merging into a greater Christian Patriot narrative extend back to the 1958 founding of the John Birch Society. Although its primary aim was to eliminate communist influence within the United States, the Birch Society took aim against Martin Luther King and the civil-rights movement, claiming it to be the handiwork of communist infiltrators seeking to destabilise the country. The racist undertones prevalent in the Birch Society attracted individuals such as William Potter Gale, former aide to General MacArthur and self-proclaimed World War II guerrilla strategist. [6]

Shortly after its founding, a small faction within the John Birch Society, led by Gale, grew tired of political rhetoric and split with the organisation. This group called for the establishment of paramilitary units and supported a more violent means with which to crush “America’s enemy.”  This enemy, according to Gale, was communism propagated by the “international Jewish conspiracy.” [7] To further clarify – or more accurately, obfuscate – who should be targeted, Gale proclaimed: “you got your nigger Jews, your Asiatic Jews, and you got your white Jews…they’re all Jews, and they’re all the offspring of the devil.” [8] The turn to a more violent form of ‘resistance’ appealed to many, and Gale’s prior history and connections within the John Birch Society proved a recruiting boon.

Gale put in place an ideology, loosely defined, that gave him the utmost flexibility to alter his recruitment pitches in way which resonated with shifting societal concerns. The underlying ideology promoted by Gale lacked logical consistency, but its amorphous nature ultimately proved beneficial. When Americans sought to pinpoint and place blame for the ills of society, Gale provided easy answers. By adopting a diverse set of enemies – all bound in a complex conspiracy to create a new world order – Gale offered common ground upon which all right-wing extremist organisations could rally. Although their reasons varied, multiple right-wing organisations came together and agreed upon three core concepts: a re-dedication to individual gun rights; a fear of a one-world government (especially a Jewish-controlled one); and a recognition that a vanguard party should be established to defend American ideals. The paramount importance of the vanguard party was Gale’s most dangerous contribution, an organisation known as Posse Comitatus (historically, the term originally referred to the body of men summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law; later it was used more generally for a group of people with a common interest or purpose). 

Alongside the like-minded competitor Henry Beach, Gale constructed the philosophical foundations of Posse Comitatus, a belief system which asserted an evil global conspiracy could be defeated only by returning legal power to its lowest level. Posse ideology emphasised “that the only legitimate government is at the county level.” [9] To this end, Gale demanded the creation of “common law courts” to be staffed and run by members of the local community.  These courts, according to Gale, had the authority to organise “volunteer Christian posses” to arrest and indict government officials that were deemed to oppose American values. [10] As could be expected, government workers were soon threatened and in some instances found themselves victims of vicious attacks. [11] At the time, Posse Comitatus was only one organisation amongst a stew of right-wing extremist groups. Fortunately for Gale and its members, not only was the Posse low on the domestic threat list, but the actions of other groups drew the more immediate attention of law enforcement. As the leaders of other groups were arrested or put under legal pressure, Gale rounded up members of the now-leaderless organisations, merged them into a more united front, and indoctrinated them into Posse ideology.

Despite the tacit help afforded by law enforcement’s blind eye, the organisation grew in fits and starts.  This changed dramatically in the turbulence of the 1970s tax protest movement. Seeing the potential to fish from a particularly abundant pool of potential recruits, Gale immediately altered Posse recruitment pitches. The new rhetoric emphasised the evils of the taxation system and identified the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as an unconstitutional entity that should be resisted by all means. The pitch rang true to citizens desperate for an outlet. Angry, disillusioned citizens flocked to Gale’s decree to “get ready for a declaration of war... if you don’t have a gun, bring some rope… because there’s going to be one tax collector removed from office!” [12] By 1975, the Posse was described as “the newest – and fastest growing – of a seemingly never-ending stream of militant right-wing organisations.” [13]

Although Posse was expanding, the lack of strategic vision combined with ineffective leadership and tactical ineptitude resulted in little more than boisterous talk. Despite its violent rhetoric, so unthreatening was the Posse at the time, a sheriff once jokingly commented: “Our feeling was that if they armed themselves, they’d probably severely injure themselves before they got out of the room.” A colleague added: “If brains was gunpowder, they couldn’t blow their noses.” [14] What little actionable leadership they were able to muster was quickly destroyed.  During the late 1970s, successful tax-evasion prosecutions decimated Posse leadership ranks.  Talk of revenge followed, but little violence materialised.

The following decade would change the scope of Patriot operations.  If the 1970s were an era of boisterous but peaceful expansion, the 1980s would prove the reverse. Turning talk into action, the 1980s Posse would form an alliance with a seemingly unlikely – but very capable – segment of the U.S. citizenry.

The farm crisis of the 1980s injected a host of fresh recruits into Posse ranks. Unlike the tax-protestors of the 1970s, farmers joining Posse Comitatus possessed both demolitions and the technological knowhow to employ them. The early 1980s were particularly harsh on the American family-owned farm. For a myriad of political and economic reasons, farmers were forced to sell their land to large corporations or suffer the humiliation of foreclosure. Pride and self-sufficiency, key components of small farm identity, were wiped out. Farmers – whose identity was tied to their land and line of work – could not bear the humiliation. A wave of self-inflicted violence followed. According to one study, the suicide rate among Oklahoma farmers jumped to 300 per cent above the rest of the population. [15] Government studies revealed similar trends throughout the American heartland, mainly that “people in farm families were dying at an incredible rate by their own hands.” [16]

As the 1980s progressed, farm foreclosures continued to soar among mid-level farmers. The effects were felt not only in the fields, but also in the towns that depended on their daily business. Small, family-owned feed stores, restaurants, grocery stores, and salons felt the impact of the farm crisis. Among the crowds at foreclosure and repossession auctions, a clear and confident voice asserted that the farmers’ problems were a result of a Jewish conspiracy to establish a ‘New World Order’. The voice revealed that the Zionist-occupied government (ZOG) was working to destroy the freedoms and ideals laid forth by the US Constitution. The pitch resonated well with the desperate and destitute farmers who had no other way to explain their loss. The Posse recruited from among these souls and easily convinced farmers that they should turn their inner anger outward and to punish those responsible for their pain.

Although racism, anti-Semitism, and a pseudo-Christian belief system lie at the core of its ideology, the Posse hid its true agenda and, instead, offered solutions to the farmers’ foreclosure and social problems. [17] The Posse travelled the countryside telling farmers that it was possible to save their lands if they attended Posse-led “constitutional law seminars.” [18] The Posse taught farmers how to create and file lawsuits – chock full of legal nonsense – against their lenders. They convinced eager audiences that their mortgage payments were a ruse. Mortgages were simply a government conspiracy to take land in exchange for paper stacks of dollars. Dollars, they argued, that were worth nothing given the separation from the gold standard in 1971.

The technique worked, of course, but only for a limited timeframe. After the dismissal of the false legal claims in courtrooms throughout the nation, the Posse re-framed both the problem and the solution for farmers. According to the Posse, farmers could not find justice in courts because the legal system was controlled by a Jewish supra-national entity that wanted to strip America of its last honest and independent form of work. To free themselves from this puppet-like state of affairs, the Posse recommended that farmers return their driver’s licenses, social security cards, and license plates to the state in order to renounce their American citizenship.  Many farmers complied and mailed the state letters declaring themselves ‘sovereign citizens’, thereby free from governmental jurisdiction higher than the county level.

As expected, the government was forced to act, often triggering tense standoffs. When farmers were confronted, Posse founder William Potter Gale offered a clarification on what he expected from them: “Yes, we are going to cleanse our land. We are going to do it with a sword. And we are going to do it with violence… it is about time somebody is telling you to get violent, whitey.” [19] The radicals preached hatred to a receptive audience that listened and positioned themselves to act upon those sermons. Soon, as Joel Dyer notes in Harvest of Rage, Patriot actions went “from paper to pipe bombs.” [20]

Influenced by Posse rhetoric and operating under Aryan Nation guidance, a group known as The Order initiated a wave of extremist violence that swept the country. Based loosely on the secret revolutionary organisation portrayed in William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries, the Order was responsible for a string of bank robberies that spanned over two years. [21] Their biggest heist occurred in 1984 when members successfully held up an armoured vehicle and made off with US$ 3.8 million. [22] The Order’s most notorious crime, however, was the murder of conservative Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in June 1984.

Others followed suit, and a string of robberies, bombings, and assaults followed in the wake of The Order’s violent example. Groups such as the Covenant, the Arm, and the Sword of the Lord (CSA) backed violent talk with capability, raising legal concern and spurring government intervention. On April 19, 1985, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began a raid on a CSA compound which recovered a startling cache of weapons. The arsenal included anti-tank rockets, bombs, land mines, grenades, and cyanide canisters destined to be used in the water supply of several large cities. [23] Even more disturbing were linkages to plans to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

The mastermind behind the Murrah bombing plan was CSA leader Richard Wayne Snell. Snell drew inspiration from a description of the bomb used to destroy an FBI building in the book The Turner Diaries – a narrative that called for the use of a 5,000-pound Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil (ANFO) weapon. A victim of IRS property seizures himself, Snell held a deep hatred of the US government and planned to attack the IRS agents that impounded his home. These agents, of course, worked in downtown Oklahoma City. Fortunately in 1983, a premature detonation occurred as Snell and accomplices tried to build the bomb, severely disabling Snell and effectively putting the brakes on the attack. [24] Snell was arrested the following year after killing an African-American Arkansas state trooper in a vicious gun battle. Arkansas governor Bill Clinton signed an executive order for his execution and set the date of his death – April 19, 1995.

Under increased attention from law enforcement agencies, Posse leaders were forced to change their identity and recruitment tactics. [25] By the late 1980s, the label Posse Comitatus was officially linked to violence and terror, a branding that hindered recruitment and, in turn, the existence of the organisation. In order to survive, a shift was in order. The term Posse Comitatus was discarded in favour of a new label. Although fundamental Posse beliefs and ideology were altered little, Christian Patriots became the accepted label for former Posse members. Christian Patriots, in line with Posse beliefs, still harboured a distrust of the American government, a devotion to gun rights, and a belief that Constitutional power lay only at the county level.  Although the new title resonated well, the underlying Posse ideology was too difficult for many on the outside fringes of the organisation to swallow. People simply found it hard to believe that the US government was actively planning covert warfare against its citizens.

The governmental missteps that unfolded at Ruby Ridge and Waco would offer Posse ideology an air of truth and help convince the sceptics. The 1992 fiasco at Ruby Ridge began to solidify the Christian Patriot movement in a manner which exceeded Patriot leaders’ wildest expectations. It was here, at a small cabin in northern Idaho, that the Patriots began to merge into a more united front. After Randy Weaver, a former Army Green Beret and Christian Identity adherent, failed to show in court to address weapons sales charges (two sawn-off shotguns), federal Marshals staked out Weaver’s compound, bringing in the FBI Hostage Rescue Team to serve as sharpshooters if needed. 

Although narratives differ over what triggered the incident, most describe an FBI agent throwing a rock to test the reaction of Stryker, the Weaver’s dog. Stryker barked in alarm, as any dog would, and the results were disastrous. Weaver’s son, Sam, emerged from the cabin to investigate the noise. He laid eyes upon Stryker just in time to see the dog run up onto the FBI position and get shot by an agent. Sam Weaver, witnessing his dog being killed, shot back at the agents. The FBI returned fire and killed both Sam Weaver and a family friend that had been walking with him. After retrieving the body of his son, Randy Weaver refused to come out or talk with the government task force. Operating under revised rules of engagement, the following day an FBI sniper attempted to kill Weaver as he left the cabin to visit his son’s body in a nearby barn. The shot missed Randy, but hit his wife squarely in the head, killing her instantly as she held her baby girl Elishiba. As the story leaked into mainstream media, the radical right saw an opportunity to rally. Following the eventual surrender of Weaver, a special meeting was called in Estes Park, Colorado, bringing together one of the most diverse collections of right-wing extremists ever. The overall tone of the meeting urged solidarity, a point hammered home in Louis Beam’s proclamation:

“We are viewed by the government as the same, enemies of the state. When they come for you, the federals will not ask if you are a Constitutionalist, a Baptist, Church of Christ, Identity Covenant believer, Klansman, Nazi, home schooler, Freeman, New Testament believer or a feast keeper, nor will they ask whether you believe in the rapture or think it is poppycock. Those who wear badges, black boots and carry automatic weapons and kick in doors already know all they need to know about you.  You are enemies of the state!” [26] 

Less than six months after the Estes Park gathering – and with men like Timothy McVeigh looking on – the US government once again solidified the Patriot Movement and bolstered Beam’s rhetoric. The scene played out on the outskirts of Waco, Texas in an isolated compound run by David Koresh and the cult organisation known as the Branch Davidians. Once again, the US government executed a poorly-designed weapons raid that took a tragic turn. On April 19, 1993, in a cloud of CS gas, tanks approached the Waco compound as an FBI task force raided the compound. The result was the destruction of the compound, resulting in the fiery deaths of over 70 compound residents – a death toll which included twenty children. [27]

The most devastating domestic terrorist attack in United States history took place on April 19, 1995 – not coincidentally the anniversary of the CSA compound raid in 1985, the same date of the beginning of the surveillance of Ruby Ridge in 1992, anniversary of the 1993 Waco raid, and most notably, the exact date of Patriot-hero Richard Wayne Snell’s execution. The attack was perpetrated by a former Klansman with strong ties to the Christian Patriot movement. Timothy McVeigh, rumoured to sleep with a copy of The Turner Diaries near his bed, interacted heavily with like-minded Patriots on gun show circuits and was known to have ties with the Aryan Republican Army. It was in the name of Patriot goals that McVeigh carried out Snell’s plan to bomb the Murrah building. With this single act, the Christian Patriot movement reached its peak of violence and seemed primed to unleash a wave of terrorism across the country. What actually occurred, however, leads us to the atomised state of the current movement.

Following the Oklahoma City bombing and the public outrage over the deaths of 168 people (including 19 children playing in a day care centre), the unravelling of the Christian Patriot movement began. While many within the movement deplored the attack, others were more supportive and urged American citizens to prepare for civil war. As law enforcement agencies began to focus attention on right-wing extremist groups, many went to ground – severing communications, tempering rhetoric, and attempting to distance themselves from any association with the McVeigh attack.

The once unified movement had fractured to become different strands of constantly bickering individual organisations. A huge shift occurred as groups began to drop their ‘Christian Patriot’ labels and adopt more pure White Nationalistic identities. [28] From the Oklahoma City bombing to the early 2000s, the Christian Patriot movement could best be described as a very loose network of anti-government groups that fought more often than they cooperated.  The path towards complete atomisation has undermined every attempt to generate surges of support or unified action.

Unfortunately, the trend of atomization and bickering may be coming to an end. As indicated by the recently ‘leaked’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, the current political and economic climate may once again help re-unify the Christian Patriot movement. [29] The coalescence of various right-wing groups alarms many, opening up the potential for attacks with greater destructive outcomes than the Oklahoma City bombing. Political leaders are deeply concerned at the possibility of Christian Patriot reunification and even more disturbed at the possibility of Patriot attacks which employ WMD. It is to this subject that the article now turns. 

 Patriot Intent

Judging Patriot intent to use WMD is one part rhetoric and four parts action. Intent is generally hard to determine since we cannot be inside the minds of others, let alone determine a singular clear refrain from the hums and whistles of an entire movement. Rhetoric alone does very little to establish intent; however rhetoric combined with an established history of violence at least establishes credibility. Delving into the literature by which the Patriot members most closely identify themselves is the first step in examining intent. 

To establish intent in literature, one needs simply thumb through the pages of The Turner Diaries – commonly referred to as the Bible of the racist right. One excerpt from the book paints a clear picture with regards to Patriot aims:

“As I watched, the gigantic fireball continued to expand and rise, and a dark column, like the stem of an immense toadstool, became visible beneath it. Bright, electric blue tongues of fire could be seen flickering and dancing over the surface of the column. They were huge lightning bolts, but at a distance no thunder could be heard from them. When the noise finally came, it was a dull, muffled sound, yet still overwhelming: the sort of sound one might expect to hear if an inconceivably powerful earthquake rocked a huge city and caused a thousand 100-story skyscrapers to crumble into ruins simultaneously.” [30]

This apocalyptic narrative describes the nuclear annihilation of Baltimore. The carnage continues; within the final 25 pages of the novel, the entire California coastline, Detroit, and New York – a victim of 18 separate nuclear explosions – had been wiped-off the face of the Earth. In addition, Israel and the Soviet Union were on the receiving end of a salvo of nuclear strikes. The penultimate climax of the story involves the story’s hero piloting a small plane over the Pentagon for a final nuclear detonation, a blast which triggers nationwide racial war.  Keeping in mind that McVeigh built the Oklahoma City bomb to the near-exact specifications portrayed in The Turner Diaries, and Robert Matthews’ creation of The Order during the 1980s, the willingness of Patriots to follow the narrative with regards to nuclear weapons should be taken seriously.

With this foundational literature showing support for WMD usage, we turn now to actions. Christian Patriot groups have taken steps to acquire and use chemical substances capable of  WMD effects on multiple different occasions. In an aforementioned example, during a 1985 raid of the CSA compound in northern Arkansas, FBI agents unearthed an arsenal of weapons. Among these weapons were over 30 gallons of cyanide. [31]  Investigations revealed that CSA members intended to use the cyanide to poison the water supplies of New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.  to initiate end times and the second coming of Christ. When informed that the amount of cyanide they possessed could not have killed anyone, a CSA member confidently asserted: “God would… make sure the poison got to the town.” [32] 

In 1991, another Patriot-affiliated group attempted to use biological toxins to assassinate law enforcement officials.  The Minnesota Patriots Council – an anti-government organisation founded by retired Air Force colonel Frank Nelson – attained the instructions to create ricin from a right-wing publication focused on constructing chemical and biological weapons from home laboratories. [ 33] The group eventually produced 0.7 grams of ricin, enough, according to federal prosecutors, to “kill hundreds of people.” [34] Despite claims that the defendants had already been exonerated by a common law court, and thereby making a federal prosecution illegal, the perpetrators were the first to be convicted under the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act.

In 1998, a third Patriot attempt to acquire WMD was noted. Larry Wayne Harris, a delusional paranoid who propagated tales of his secret employment with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was arrested for possessing a biological agent for use as a weapon. After telling an FBI informant that he possessed enough military-grade anthrax to “wipe out” all of Las Vegas, law enforcement agents seized Harris’ car and found eight flight bags full of substances labeled “biological.” [35] The substances were later discovered to be a harmless strain of anthrax, but Harris’ history – which included a 1995 arrest for the illegal acquisition of bacteria that causes bubonic plague – clearly indicates the willingness of some Patriots to use WMD in a terrorist attack.

According to a 2008 FBI/DHS report, there were at least five other instances “in which individuals attempted to acquire or manufacture CBRN materials but were unsuccessful or were disrupted before they could complete the process.” [36] Of the five known attempts, four are rightfully understood through the lens of Patriot ideology. In 2004, the ATF found the precursors to ricin (castor beans) and abrin (lucky beans) in the apartment of an anti-government extremist. Two Texas anti-government extremists were also arrested and convicted for purchasing the precursors to hydrogen cyanide gas, which was intended for use through a building’s ventilation system. In 2006, a neo-Nazi attempted to buy a canister of sarin from an undercover FBI agent.  Later that year, a survivalist was sentenced for attempting to produce ricin as a weapon. Clearly, the intent to acquire and employ WMD has been demonstrated by members of the Patriot movement.  

Also troubling are the overly-high ambitions in the operational realm derived from Patriot beliefs in a pervasive Jewish international conspiracy theory.  If we are to take Christian Patriot rhetoric at face value, this is indeed problematic as it hints at a desire for weaponry beyond the conventional. Patriot ideology is based on the belief that an international Jewish cabal is well on its way to establishing a ‘one-world government’. Patriots believe, to varying degrees, that the American government has been infiltrated and is being steered to promote Zionism and accommodate Jewish needs. The only remedy to combat this Zionist occupied government (ZOG) is to destroy it. According to one expert of Patriot ideology: “Virtually anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy, and thus becomes essentially disposable… For many in this alternative universe, this also includes (and focuses upon) homosexuals, minorities, immigrants, and Jews.” [37] Needless to say, the elimination of all these groups should highlight an overly-high ambition in the operational realm and, in turn, suggest a Patriot pre-disposition to WMD. 

Patriot Capability

Although possessing WMD intent in spades, the Patriots have a significant capabilities problem.  Capabilities are more than just access to WMD materials. Rather, any capabilities assessment must include considerations of at least four factors: a permissive environment in which to operate; an organisational structure that can capitalise on that permissive environment; accessibility of physical resources from which to actually construct a weapon; and the intellectual resources necessary to make use of those materials without causing inadvertent self-harm. If this were not challenge enough, the factors themselves are each necessary but not individually sufficient. Rather, these factors are mutually reinforcing and interdependent, and for an organisation to possess true capability, each of these factors must be present during WMD development. With these factors in mind, the Patriots demonstrate little to no actual capability to acquire, develop, or employ truly lethal amounts of WMD.

The Patriot movement, hamstrung by internal dissention and constant bickering, has, to this point, demonstrated no determined and unified commitment to produce anything beyond the most basic of CBRN weaponry. A prevailing hypothesis concerning organisational structure and WMD innovations states “highly structured and highly cohesive groups led by an undisputed leader are likely to demonstrate a higher capability to innovate successfully than loosely knit or heavily factionalised groups that experience strong internal pressures.” [38] Turning to Aum Shinrikyo as the ideal type, we find a very hierarchical (even totalitarian) form of leadership and operational decision-making. Shoko Asahara’s position atop the organisation is best described as god-like, an undisputed entity whose wildest, most insane visions and orders would be reacted upon with complete loyalty and unrivalled zeal. This undying devotion to their leader, as noted by Adam Dolnik, “only underscores Asahara’s absolute and undisputable position within the group;” when Asahara demanded something, his followers “responded with an absolute commitment to that project.” [39]

This degree of loyalty, hierarchy, and internal unity present in Aum Shinrikyo are entirely absent within Patriot organisations. The Patriots are a mixture of several sub-movements, many of which differ in their interpretation of a utopian future world. Militias, which allow membership from minority groups, often disagree with the racist rants of the White Nationalists. Many groups advocate offensive operations against their enemies, while others promote a defensive posture.  Additionally, a huge rift exists between ‘intellectuals’ and ‘blue collar’ members of the movement. This distrust has generated intolerance of the other camp, preventing cooperation on even the most mundane issue. A recent example of this internal turmoil can be found on the White Nationalist website Stormfront in the discussion section labeled Problems with our Movement – The Class Divide, and best exemplified by the comment “when I hear the word intellectual, I reach for my pistol.” [40] There are no Shoko Asaharas within the Patriots capable of emphasising and directing work towards a single project. In fact, when reviewing the notes from any Patriot meeting or website, it is difficult to find a united expressive emphasis to anything other than conspiracy theories. [41] If anything, the Patriot movement has demonstrated almost complete operational stagnation during the past 15 years.

If one accepts the argument that the path to WMD employment requires either coordination or the presence of empowered leadership capable of overseeing the process and pushing it to its conclusion, then we find a major obstacle for Patriot WMD usage.  Multiple terms have been used to describe the Patriots, but the labels ‘hierarchy’ or ‘organized’ have never been among them. In fact, it is extremely difficult to define exactly what the Patriot movement is, due to its amoeba-like ability to merge and dissociate with organisations on a near-constant basis. The Patriots simply lack a true leader or empowered governing body with which to direct or oversee any innovative process.  Instead, the movement is ‘inspired’ – steered or directed being too indicative of actual control – by different personalities that reside in different ideological milieus.  The overwhelming theme of Patriot leadership is the inability to agree upon strategy, operations, or underlying ideology, a factor which impedes WMD acquisition or development.

A second factor which promotes WMD acquisition or development is the presence of a safe haven from which a terrorist group may operate. Such a haven affords the organisation the space needed to experiment with various forms or weaponry, conduct tests, and engage in trial runs. Again, the case of Aum Shinrikyo is instructive. Following the nuclear conclusion of World War II, allied nations began to reconstruct Japanese society in a manner which prevented a backslide into authoritative savagery. The victors put into place a set of laws that severely curtailed the intelligence gathering and enforcement capabilities of law enforcement entities.  One such law prevented police from gathering preventative intelligence against ‘religious organizations’, as it would violate codes against religious persecution. Aum, which went to great lengths to be officially labelled as such an organisation, used this legal loophole and was able to build – in plain sight – various factories from which it tried (but mostly failed) to develop a range of biological and chemical weapons. [42] Additionally, Aum was able to use a sheep ranch in Australia to test the lethality of its sarin gas.

Where Aum had a virtual free hand to develop CBRN weapons, the Patriots have little breathing room. Stifling the prospects for Patriot WMD acquisition is the complete absence of a safe haven from which to organise and operate. This lack of a safe can be attributed to the deep penetration of Patriot groups by FBI and local law enforcement agencies as well as the persistent efforts of right-wing watchdog groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The combined efforts of these entities keeps constant pressure on various Patriot affiliated organisations and gives Patriot leaders little room to recruit, merge resources, or to coordinate efforts. The constant pressure compels the Patriots to adopt a form of ‘leaderless resistance’, a strategy which makes terrorist organisations difficult to penetrate, but exceedingly difficult for terrorist leaders to control. [43] Without a safe haven, Patriot organisations busy themselves with the task of sheer survival, preventing them from using that time to develop new theories or technologies for future attacks. 

But there is a more pressing problem which confronts the Patriots. The absence of deep intellectual resources able to develop and/or procure the most deadly forms of WMD is another trait which stifles Patriot WMD development. Although classifying Patriot members as ‘uneducated hillbillies’ is largely inaccurate, so too would be any attempt to classify them as deep thinkers. The radical right is characterised by members coming from intermediate and disadvantaged backgrounds. According to Chris Hewitt, 74 per cent of Klansmen and 57 per cent of the ‘New Right’ extremists are drawn from disadvantaged social classes. [44] Accordingly, few of these extremists possess education levels beyond what is required in state school systems.  It is unlikely that a poorly educated extremist would possess the intellectual skills needed to craft a formidable WMD or the means to disperse it if created. This was evident in the 2009 case of neo-Nazi James Cummings and his amateurish quest to craft a ‘dirty bomb’. [45] The fact that so many Patriots come from a disadvantaged social class also curtails the financial resources any Patriot group can mobilise.

In general, the ability of the Patriots to craft a WMD of significant lethality remains a distant prospect.  It is likely that Patriot groups will continue to dabble in relatively low-lethality CBRN production – small amounts of ricin, poisons, or caustic materials – but too many factors work against the creation of a truly lethal WMD. For the time being, Patriots are better served by employing conventional weapons.

 Bridging the Intent/Capability Divide?

While the prospect of a Christian Patriot WMD attack should be considered low, a troubling wildcard factor has resurfaced that warrants scrutiny and concern. Given the vast array of capability problems addressed in the previous section, the most immediately effective path to WMD acquisition is to bootstrap capability and marry it to intent through an alliance with a group already in possession of WMD but lacking access to the target. 

As discussed in George Michael’s 2006 book The Enemy of My Enemy, there are disturbing indications of a temporary alliance being made between Patriot-affiliated groups and militant Islamic organisations. [46] If we lend credence to the notion that jihadist organisations are “close to making ‘workable and efficient biological and chemical weapons’ capable of killing thousands of people” – as a report by the Investigative Project on Terrorism suggests– then the Patriots have found a capable organisation with which to ally. [47] This right-wing-jihadist cooperation would not necessarily be a new phenomenon – as indicated by tales of mutual admiration and operational cooperation between Adolf Hitler and the Islamic militant Haj Amin al-Husseini during World War II. [48] Nevertheless, a modern variant of the alliance could add the missing capability to Patriot intent, greatly increasing the likelihood of a WMD attack on American soil. 

Many Patriot groups view Islamist terrorists as – although not necessarily on the ‘same team’ – at least working for the same cause. Patriots sympathise with jihadist aims of eradicating Jewish influence, while Islamists are presumably supportive of Patriot aims of bringing down the US government. Should we allow ourselves to delve into a Tom Clancy-like narrative and give voice to the idea that cheerleading could translate into operational ties, the Patriots have a role to play in bringing WMD terrorism on American soil.   

According to the 2008 Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, the most likely source of WMD acquisition is Pakistan – described as the “intersection of Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism.” [49] According to the Commission report, 74 per cent of terrorism experts surveyed “consider Pakistan the country most likely to transfer nuclear technology to terrorists in the next three to five years.” [ 50]The concern over Pakistani nuclear weapon proliferation – especially to terrorist organizations – has been recently expressed in numerous diplomatic cables attained in the recent Wikileaks disclosures. [51]

The concern – a theoretical one at this point – is that militant Islamists are able to acquire such a weapon through black markets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and smuggle them near the US border. Unable to cross American borders due to concerns of being caught through security profiling, the jihadists may require a more ‘Americanised’ group to get their weapon through. To cross US borders, it would be theoretically easier for a Patriot to blend in, smuggle the weapon into the US and carry out an attack. From the perspective of the allied terrorist groups, this type of approach completely blurs the lines of responsibility and puts the US government in a tremendous predicament with regards to response options; a potential win-win scenario for both the Patriots and jihadists.

This scenario is currently more fiction than fact. While unsettling, current prospects of cooperation between Patriots and jihadists remain fairly bleak. Steven Barry, the former leader of right-wing Special Forces Underground, sums it up well:

“What does the ‘extreme right’ have to offer Militant Islam? Militant Islam possesses every quality absent in the “extreme right.”” Militant Islam, on the whole, has (i) organisation (ii) hierarchy (iii) autonomy (iv) money and logistics (v) media (vi) liaison and (vii) covert support… the extreme right is (i) disorganised and chaotic (ii) leaderless, fractionalised, and defiant of subordination (iii) anti-authoritarian, more often than not to the point of anarchic (iv) bankrupt and lacking anything remotely resembling logistics (v) voiceless (vi) uncooperative and more often than not hostile in their mutual relations (vii) utterly bereft of popular support – indeed “the People” are hostile toward them, and (viii) without the least sympathy in any government at any level. [52] 

Steven Emerson, the director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, is another doubter of significant operational alliances existing between the Patriots and jihadists, his scepticism resting largely on the unsubstantiated operational backgrounds of most Patriots. Emerson notes: “Operationally, I do not know how extensive there will be an alliance, because at least from the Islamic militant community, to really have access to the high level operators, you have to have a pedigree that these guys [right-wing extremists] would not have.” [53] From this perspective, it is the sub-par operational record of the Patriots that serve as an obstacle to operational collaboration.  It is an argument that carries weight. 

Although currently minimal, the potential for cooperation across ideological milieus carries enough significance to warrant further study, and focused work on the issue is underway. Under the Department of Homeland Security’s Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) program, terrorism scholars Jeffrey Bale and Gary Ackerman have tracked and documented ties between Western extremists and Islamist groups. European extremist organisations being more sophisticated than their American brethren, Bale and Ackerman’s preliminary findings suggest cooperation exists, but interaction between European extremists and jihadists is predominately relegated to various forms of rhetorical support and, to a lesser degree, assisting detained Islamist terrorists procure legal representation. [54] Cooperation beyond this, especially in the operational realm, is largely speculative or wholly undocumented.      

A Patriot-jihadist operational alliance is unlikely at the current time, owing mainly to jihadist ideological barriers and the overall lack of Patriot operational bona fides. [55] Should this alliance ever materialise, it would likely be initiated by an Islamist terrorist organisation lacking more attractive options. Although rhetorical and low-level logistical support is likely to continue and intensify, a true operational alliance should be considered a last-ditch option for Islamist groups with the means to acquire truly lethal WMD capability. Should it come to pass, however, Patriot groups appear willing to do their part. The Patriot-affiliated white supremacist group Aryan Nations, as one example, has already established a Ministry of Islamic Liaison which expresses public support for the aspirations of transnational jihadists. [56] With this in mind, those studying this phenomenon should raise flags as they see jihadist rhetoric become more accepting of Patriot groups or fatwas issued that provide religious justification for such cooperation.

 Conclusion

The face of domestic terrorism in the US is older than we often think. From the Anti-Masons and Know-Nothings of the early 1800s, the birth of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866, to the rise of militias and neo-Nazi groups in modern times, there has never been a period of American history devoid of right-wing violence. Right-wing terrorism, to put it bluntly, has existed and is virtually guaranteed to exist for the duration of the future of the US. While it will remain a problem, the point of inquiry for this article is not whether right-wing terrorism persists, but in what form and to what degree their acts impact society. More pointedly, will the US be a victim of WMD terrorism employed via Patriot organisations? In response, this article has argued that prospects for WMD employment from the Christian Patriot movement are low owing primarily to a lack of capability. This assessment is of course transient, and should not spur celebration or complacency. 

Continued, relentless pressure on this movement is required to ensure it never has the safe haven, the opportunity to restructure the organisation, or the appeal to effectively recruit from a disaffected segment of society. Should the movement ever coalesce and have the operational freedom needed to plan, organise, train, and openly communicate with their various branches, the Christian Patriot movement has the ideological drive and intent to commit a WMD attack. The ability to create and maintain a safe haven is, in the near-term at least, a distant possibility.  Groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League and other watchdog organisations perform a tremendously valuable role in keeping pressure on the Patriots at no cost to the US government. While it would be wrong for the government to openly support such organisations (it would only lend weight to the Patriots conspiracy theories), it is worthwhile to publicly highlight the efforts of these groups through media outlets to ensure their continued existence.      

WMD use being improbable, we should expect to see the continuation of Patriot efforts to expand their capabilities with conventional munitions. Although use of WMD is unlikely, the prospect of a conventional attack generating mass effects and high lethality is considerable. The Patriots have the tools necessary to carry out a high casualty attack, as reflected by the 2007 raid of multiple Alabama Free Militia compounds. This particular raid netted  “130 grenades, a grenade launcher, approximately 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun, explosives parts, two silencers, numerous other firearms, commercial fireworks and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.” [57]

Clearly, the resources are available to carry out a conventional attack, and given the relative paucity if not total absence of Patriot nuclear or biological scientists, it is probable that Patriots would employ these weapons rather than developing, acquiring, or employing a WMD of equal lethality. We can also expect to see the continued development and sporadic employment of limited-lethality WMD.  Chemical and biological substances and agents such as cyanide and ricin are definite possibilities for Patriot arsenals, but weaponisation and dispersion challenges hamper the overall lethality of their deployment. Barring a forged alliance with a jihadist group – a remote but not entirely unfeasible prospect – we should not expect to see a significant radiological or nuclear device employed by a Patriot group.

About the Authors: Paul Brister is a PhD Candidate in the Security Studies Curriculum at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. An active duty Air Force Special Tactics Officer, his focus is the field of Terrorism Studies, where he is completing a dissertation on domestic right-wing terrorism.  The project, titled “Ku Klux Rising: Understanding American Right Wing Terrorism” seeks to refine models which explain and possibly forecast surges in right-wing extremism.  Major Brister is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and holds a Masters degree in Defence Analysis/Irregular Warfare from the Naval Postgraduate School

Nina Kollars is a Political Scientist at the Ohio State University completing her thesis titled "By the Seat of Our Pants: Tactical and Technological Adaptation on the Battlefield." Her dissertation explores the way that military tactical and technological adaptations occur in the field. She carries a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University's Elliot School and has worked in research and policy analysis for several federal agencies including the World Bank and the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. Her research interests are in East Asian terrorist organizations, technological change, and military effectiveness.

 

Notes

[1] Mark Potok, "The Year in Hate & Extremism," SPLC Intelligence Report Spring 2011, no. 141 (2011), http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2011/spring/the-year-in-hate-extremism-2010 ; SPLC, "Southern Poverty Law Center News," U.S. Hate Groups Top 1000(2011), http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/us-hate-groups-top-1000.  

[2] This definition is consistent with the general use of the term.  For one example, see Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, "WMD Terrorism and Pakistan: Counterterrorism," Defence Against Terrorism Review 1, no. 2 (2006).

[3] David A. Neiwert, In God's Country : The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest .Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University Press, 1999, p. 4.

[4] Rather than identify these groups by a single set of characteristics under which all fall as in a typology, it is more useful to think about these groups as having a family resemblance, also known as a the fuzzy set, for which there are no necessary and sufficient characteristics, but that are nevertheless understood as part of the same group. For more see Charles C. Ragin and Howard S. Becker (eds.), What Is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry Cambridge: University Press,1992.

[5] For additional background and group-specific data see the Anti-Defamation League’s Website on “Extremism in America”; http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/Christian_Identity.asp?.

[6] Morris Dees and James Corcoran, Gathering Storm : America's Militia Threat, 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996, p.16. Gale was known to greatly exaggerate the role he played on General MacArthur’s staff as well as his training of Filipino soldiers.

[7] Michael Newton, The Ku Klux Klan : History, Organization, Language, Influence and Activities of America's Most Notorious Secret Society. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2007, p. 152.

[8] Ibid.

[9] John George and Laird M. Wilcox, Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe : Political Extremism in America. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1992, p. 344.

[10] Daniel Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door : The Militia Movement and the Radical Right. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002, pp. 108-12.

[11] Stuart A. Wright, Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing, Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics. Cambridge: University Press, 2007, pp. 65-68.

[12] D. Levitas, op. cit., p.113.

[13] Ibid., 137.

[14] Ibid., 153.

[15] Pat Lewis, “Preventable Agricultural Deaths in Oklahoma 1983-1988: Self Inflicted or Suicides,” Unpublished thesis. Oklahoma State Agricultural Department: Oklahoma State University, 1989.

[16] Joel Dyer, Harvest of Rage: Why Oklahoma City Is Only the Beginning. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997, p 33.

[17] Here, we speak of the ideology known as Christian Identity (CI).  CI preaches that non-white races are Pre-Adamic creations, and are therefore, sub-human.  They also preach that Jews are the offspring of the Serpent/Eve copulation that produced Cain (the ‘two-seed line theory’).  For CI adherents, Jews are the literal spawn of Satan.  See: Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right : The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, Rev. ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

[18] J. Corcoran, Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus: Murder in the Heartland. New York: Penguin Books, 1990,p 32.

[19] J. Corcoran, Bitter Harvest, p. 31.

[20]  Joel Dyer, op. cit., p. 177.

[21] William Pierce wrote under the surname Andrew Macdonald when publishing. See:

Andrew Macdonald, The Turner Diaries. Hillsboro, WV: National Vanguard Books, 1978.

[22] David A. Neiwert, In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest. Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1999, p. 59.

[23] D. Levitas, op.cit., p. 207.

[24] Kerry Noble, Tabernacle of Hate : Why They Bombed Oklahoma City. Prescott, Ont. Canada: Voyageur Pub., 1998.

[25] This “identity transformation” from Posse to Patriots is provided in: D. Levitas, op. cit., pp. 9-10.

[26] Transcription of white supremacist Louis Beam’s 1992 speech in Estes Park provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[27] A detailed narrative of the Waco account is provided in Chapter 5 of: Lane Crothers, Rage on the Right : The American Militia Movement from Ruby Ridge to Homeland Security, People, Passions, and Power. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

[28] An excellent portrayal of this trend is provided in:  Stuart A. Wright, “Strategic Framing of Racial-Nationalism in North America and Europe:  An Analysis of a Burgeoning Transnational Network,” Terrorism and Political Violence , Vol. 21 (2009), pp. 189-210.  Additionally, an excellent (and far  more detailed) history of the Patriot movement is provided in : Stuart A. Wright. Making War: Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Cambridge: University Press, 2007.

[29] DHS, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Refueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," ed. Department of Homeland Security (Washington DC: Office of Intelligence and Analysis, 2009).

[30] Andrew Macdonald, The Turner Diaries : A Novel . Hillsboro, WV: National Vanguard Books, 2nd ed. 1995, p. 188.

[31] “The Covenant, The Sword and the Arm of the Lord.” Federal Bureau of Investigation. http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/covenantswordarmlaw.htm (accessed November 11 2010)

[32] Jonathan B. Tucker, Toxic Terror : Assessing Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, Basic Studies in International Security. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000, p. 151.

[33] Ibid., pp. 160-161.

[34] Ibid., p. 177.

[35] Ibid., p. 227.

[36] Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Domestic Terrorist's Intent and Capability to Use Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Weapons," in Joint Special Assessment, ed. FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. . Washington, D.C. ,14 October 2008).

[37] D. Neiwert, op. cit., p. 36.

[38] Adam Dolnik, “Aum Shinrikyo’s Path to Innovation,” in Maria Rasmussen and Mohammed Hafez (eds.) Terrorist Innovations In Weapons of Mass Effect: Preconditions, Causes, and Predictive Indicators—Workshop Report. Ft. Belvoir, VA: Defense Threat Reduction Agency, August 2010), p. 133.  Report located at:   http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Centers/CCC/Research/2010%20019%20Terrorist%20Innovations%20in%20WME.pdf  

[39] Ibid., 134.

[40] http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t502133/

[41] For an example, see Chapter 1: Carolyn Gallaher, On the Fault Line : Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement . Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

[42] One such plant, Satian-7, was actually inspected by Japanese police at one point following complaints of chlorine leaks.  Despite barrels clearly labeled caustic material and dangerous acid, the police did not follow up.  Aum was attempting to manufacture weapons based on botulism, VX, ricin, and anthrax as well as experimenting with seismic weapons which Asahara requested to fufill his plans to trigger massive earthquakes.

[43] Leaderless resistance was a concept promoted by white supremacist Richard Beam as early as 1984, and reiterated during the Estes Park meeting in 1992.

[44] Christopher Hewitt, Understanding Terrorism in America : From the Klan to Al Qaeda, Routledge Studies in Extremism and Democracy. London & New York: Routledge, 2003, p. 72.

[45] Eric Russell, “Officials Verify Maine Dirty Bomb Probe Results,” Bangor Daily News, http://www.homeland1.com/homeland-security-news/455003-officials-verify-maine-dirty-bomb-probe-results/ accessed 10 January 2011.

[46] George Michael, The Enemy of My Enemy : The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right. University of Kansas Press, 2006.

[47] Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Documents Show Jihadis Seek Mass Destruction Weapons,” 11 February 2011.  http://www.investigativeproject.org/2608/documents-show-ts-seek-mass-destruction accessed 04 March 2011. Although several Islamist terrorist organizations have the same organizational problems as the Patriots, the likelihood that they are able to acquire WMD is greatly increased due to sponsorship of failing or under-governed states sympathetic to their cause. 

[48] G. Michael, op. cit., pp. 112-24.

[49] Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism (U.S.) et al., World at Risk : The Report of the Commission on the Prevention of Wmd Proliferation and Terrorism.New York: Vintage Books, 2008.

[50] Ibid., 67.

[51] David E. Sanger Jane Perlez, and Eric Schmitt, "Nuclear Fuel Memos Expose Weary Dance with Pakistan," New York Times 2010.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/world/asia/01wikileaks-pakistan.html?_r=1 accessed 02 December 2010.

[52] As quoted in:  G. Michael, op. cit., pp. 278 - 279.

[53] Ibid., p. 275.

[54] Jeffrey Bale and Gary Ackerman, “Where the Extremes (Might) Touch: The Potential for Collaboration between Islamist Terrorists and Western Right- or Left- Wing Extremists,” (START research project, publication forthcoming, 2011) http://www.start.umd.edu/start/research/projects/

[55] As J. Bale and G. Ackerman note, some Quranic verse interpretations may prohibit Muslims from befriending non-Muslims.  One such example is Quran 5:51, “O believers, do not take the Jews and the Christians as your friends and protectors, they are friends of each other. And whoever makes them a friend then he is from amongst them. Verily God does not guide the unjust people.” See also Quran 5:57 “O you who believe! do not take for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a mockery and a joke.”

[56] Henry Schuster, “An Unholy Alliance: Aryan Nation Leader Reaches Out to Al Qaeda,” CNN News, March 29, 2005, US News Section.  http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/03/29/schuster.column/index.html . Accessed 05 March 2011.

[57] Anti-Defamation League, “Alabama Militia Raid Uncovers Massive Cache of Munitions – 6 Indicted” http://www.adl.org/learn/extremism_in_the_news/Anti_Government/militia5.07.htm?LEARN_Cat=Extremism&LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_the_News accessed 19 January 2011.

 

 



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