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Beyond the Bombing:

A new national survey by the Anti-Defamation League offers disturbing evidence that the militia movement has continued to grow since the Oklahoma City bombing. The pattern is not uniform, but militia gains plainly appear to outweigh losses -- contrary to the widespread expectation that public shock and revulsion at the bombing might prompt the militias to disband. The ADL survey also found that many hard-core militiamen believe that the United States Government itself conducted the bombing to create an excuse for further depriving citizens of their constitutional rights.

In October 1994 the ADL issued a Fact-Finding Report titled Armed & Dangerous: Militias Take Aim at the Federal Government, detailing militia activity in 13 states. The report sought to alert the American public and the law enforcement community to the danger posed by these extremists, many of whom were engaging in paramilitary training while spreading an incendiary anti-federal government message laced with conspiracy theories and, in some places, anti-Semitism.

Six months later. the militia movement came under intense national scrutiny after the deadly April 19. 1995, bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, when it was reported that two suspects in the bombing, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, had attended some militia meetings in Michigan. In addition, prosecutors have charged that McVeigh was motivated to commit the bombing out of anger at the federal government for its handling of the Branch Davidian confrontation in Waco, Texas -- an issue that has been one of the chief rallying cries of the militia movement.

A Growing Movement

Continued monitoring by ADL in the months after publication of the October 1994 report reveals that the militia movement has grown -- with some of the growth taking place after the Oklahoma city bombing. In this new survey, conducted through ADL's regional offices and completed six weeks after the bombing, militias have been found to be operating in at least 40 states, with membership reaching some 15,000. A continued flow of information indicates that these numbers could rise still higher. While these findings are not a definitive indication of the militias' future prospects, they do point to the need for ongoing close attention to this movement.

In California, more than 30 militias are presently operating, apparently having benefited from the large amount of publicity the movement has received in recent weeks. Other states in which militia activity has increased are Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, New Hampshire, Missouri and Arizona. In a few states -- Ohio, Indiana and Colorado, for example -- activity has declined since the bombing. For some groups, such as the Northwest Oregon Regional Militia, a factor in their decline has been the belief that the government, having engineered the blast, is now poised to take extreme measures to destroy the militia movement.

Since the militias are mainly located in rural and small town communities, the burden of monitoring them falls largely on state and local law enforcement agencies. In the course of the current ADL survey, it became evident that many of these agencies -- in large measure for lack of adequate investigative resources -- have not yet managed to rise to this task. That job will be made even more difficult if, as some militias strategists are counseling, the groups adopt a strategy of organizing into small units designed to be less susceptible to detection, monitoring and infiltration by law enforcement. This approach echoes a strategic concept known as "leaderless resistance" that has been promoted in recent years by several far-right figures. including Tom Metzger of Fallbrook, California, who leads the White Aryan Resistance, and Louis Beam, a former Texas KKK Grand Dragon who has been "Ambassador- At-Large" of the Idaho-based Aryan Nations.

Weapons and Conspiracy Fantasies

The most ominous aspect of the militias' program is the conviction, openly expressed by many of them, that an impending armed conflict with the federal government necessitates paramilitary training and the stockpiling of weapons in preparation for that day of reckoning. According to the militias' conspiracy view, the federal authorities are enacting gun control legislation in order to make it impossible for the people to resist the imposition of a tyrannical regime or a "one-world" dictatorship. Many militia supporters believe that the conspiracy involves not only federal authorities. but also the United Nations, foreign troops and other sinister forces.

Sometimes mentioned among these sinister forces are Jews. ADL's first report on militias noted that a number of militia figures have histories of bigotry. The current survey confirms that some militia propaganda continues to exhibit an anti-Semitic strain that could well become more pervasive among militia groups as a result of the movement's obsessive conspiracy-mongering .

In this connection, the role of America's leading anti- Semitic organization, Liberty Lobby. and its weekly publication, The Spotlight, merit attention. In April 1995, ADL revealed that one of the Oklahoma City bombing suspects, Timothy McVeigh, advertised for sale in The Spotlight a military-style rocket launcher. On May 28, The New York Times reported that Terry Nichols, the other bombing suspect, and his brother James were readers of The Spotlight. Many of the conspiracy fantasies fueling the militias were promoted heavily in a September 1994 eight- page supplement of The Spotlight. The supplement, widely distributed among militiamen, intoned: "Is America on the verge of war? Is a 'national emergency' about to be declared and America placed under martial law? Is America on the brink of occupation by military troops under United Nations control?" In addition, the Militia of Montana has been promoting for sale in its catalog a comprehensive bomb- making manual entitled The Road Back which was produced by Liberty Lobby's publishing arm, Noontide Press. The catalog describes the book as "a plan for the restoration of freedom when our country has been taken over by its enemies."

Spreading Their Message

The militia movement's continued growth is due -- at least partly -- to an effective communications network. Militia organizers have promoted their ideology not only at militia meetings. but also at gun shows, patriot rallies and gatherings of various groups with anti-government "grievances." Some militia firebrands reach their audience through mail-order videotapes and through computer bulletin boards and the Internet. Exploiting yet another medium, the pro-militia American Patriot Fax Network disseminates material from well-known hate group figures and conspiracy theorists, including some who proclaim that the government orchestrated the Oklahoma City bombing.

Of course, the fact that the men charged with the Oklahoma City bombing have had some association with one militia group does not make the entire movement responsible for the crime. But even if no further connection is established between the bombing and the militias, it should be clear by now that these extremists, particularly those engaged in paramilitary training, present a serious danger. The formula they have concocted -- belief in menacing conspiracies, hatred of the government, and the conviction that an armed showdown is coming -- is a prescription for disaster.

For these reasons, the Anti-Defamation League urges the vigorous enforcement by the states of existing statutes outlawing specific types of paramilitary training. Many of these measures, currently on the books of 24 states, were patterned after a model bill formulated by ADL (see ADL's recent Law Report, The ADL Anti-Paramilitary Training Statute: A Response To Domestic Terrorism). The League has written to the governors of the remaining 26 states, urging them to work with their legislatures to adopt such a statute. In addition, ADL has called for federal legislation to address the terrorist threat associated with both international and domestic extremism. We are encouraged at the rapid progress that appears to be taking place on a bipartisan basis toward the adoption of a comprehensive anti- terrorism bill.

The following is a state-by-state summary of militia activity, supplementing the information contained in our October 1994 report, Armed & Dangerous.

ADL Fact Finding Report, "Beyond the Bombing: The Militia Menace Grows," Anti-Defamation League, 1995.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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