An assessment conducted by the Department of Homeland Security is bringing attention to domestic terrorism, CNN reports.
Some federal and local law enforcement groups are saying that — in some cases — they feel more threatened by right-wing extremist citizens than they do by foreign Islamic terror groups, such as Islamic State.
The Homeland Security report, which was produced in coordination with the FBI, cites 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks in the U.S. since 2010.
It recalled a 2012 incident in Louisiana, where a father and son killed two police officers and wounded several others during a shootout after being being pulled over for a traffic violation.
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The father and son were considered to be sovereign citizen extremists who believed the police had no authority over them. The Homeland Security report suggests there will be incidents like this in 2015.
“(Sovereign citizen) violence during 2015 will occur most frequently during routine law enforcement encounters at a suspect’s home, during enforcement stops and at government offices,” the report stated.
The report added that “law enforcement officers will remain the primary target of (sovereign citizen) violence over the next year due to their role in physically enforcing laws and regulations.”
An administration official responded to criticism that the White House has not put as much emphasis on domestic terrorism as it has on foreign terrorism.
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“I don’t think it’s fair to say the (White House) conference didn’t address this at all,” the official said. He added that President Barack Obama spoke about the need to combat “violent ideologies” of all types.
The president recently stated in op-ed published by the Los Angeles Times that killing terrorists is not enough. He said there needs to be an effort to stop recruiters from luring people into extremist ideologies.
A Justice Department official said many of the same tactics being used to hinder the recruitment of young people into radical Islam can be used to combat anti-government extremist groups.
A survey produced by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism showed that law enforcement officials listed citizen terrorism as a greater threat than foreign Islamists. Domestic militia groups were listed as the top domestic terror threat.
Senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center Mark Potok said there are many as 300,000 people involved with some sort of sovereign citizen extremism. He believes these groups get support because of poor economic conditions.
A previous Homeland Security report produced by staff members of the Bush administration was subject to criticism by veteran groups as it spoke about the possible recruitment of military veterans by right-wing militia groups.
The report was published later during Obama’s presidency and after Homeland Security official Janet Napolitano took office. Napolitano also criticized her own agency for the report.