Extremism, radicalism and fanaticism all can have different meanings, often times though, they all come together. These words can complement anything from religion to politics, even sports.
In the 21st century, the most common association with these terms is the religious fundamentalist, to be more specific, the fundamentalist Muslim. Yes, the Muslim extremist and his entire radical jihadist, terrorist brethren, striking fear into the hearts and minds of western men and women for decades now.
For some reason, they don’t seem to scare me that much and it’s not because I’m not an American. Faisal Shahzad for example forgot the keys to his getaway car in his apartment forcing him to escape on a bus, only to be locked out of his home when he got there. How about Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab who tried to blow up his underwearâ€¦ It’s like being terrorized by Donald Duck.
I am far more afraid of the two hundred plus armed militia groups in the United States who epitomize those first three words perfectly. The only difference is these militias (especially the Christian Militias) are better trained and better armed with some having the same willingness to die for their cause. These groups get very little individual media coverage while Muslim extremists get all the attention as if they’re still more dangerous.
The modern day militia factions started up around 1993 with leaders of the militia movement having personal ties with the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco.
Since both incidents started with the ATF believing the Weavers and Branch Davidians were illegally stockpiling weapons, some gun-nuts back then believed in the conspiracy that the government was literally going to show up at their door and take away their rifles and machine guns.
This obviously helped to fuel the fire of recruitment which helped the militia movement spread like a dormant form of cancer in every state of the union in less than two years, culminating in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Even though that event later proved to have no direct links to any particular militia, the movement was exposed to the rest of the country.
Since then, the militia movement had flown fairly under the radar (almost invisible under George W. Bush) with the odd militia member being arrested usually on weapons, explosives, or conspiracy charges.
In the last two years however, there has been a massive resurgence in recruitment and the founding of new paramilitary militias, principally because of the fear of the first black president. One faction in Michigan claims to have more than six thousand members. These new groups are more radical and extreme with far more outlandish conspiracy theories than before. From believing in FEMA concentration camps or the New World Order to believing Barack Obama is a racist Kenyan born communist. They have gone from being gun-nuts to just plain nuts.
Conspiracy theories aside, they are all still potentially dangerous and getting little to no national coverage in the mainstream media. Consider this: American authorities last month charged the nine members of the Hutaree (meaning Christian soldier) Christian militia group with conspiracy to commit sedition and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.
The militia intended to kill a police officer and then detonate improvised explosives at the officer’s funeral with the expectation of slaying plenty of cops in attendance to start a war against the government. The fact that the judge wanted to release them on bail is almost crazier than the crime itself.
Brian Levin, an expert on militias and domestic terrorism said “Most (militia groups) are merely in the rhetorical and defensive stage, but we don’t know which groups are going to be benign and which are going to be small incubators for radicalism”. This leads me to believe that there are potentially hundreds of well armed and organized “terrorist cells” just waiting for the government to give them a reason to fire, which is far crazier then someone trying to blow up his underwear.
To learn more about American paramilitary militias and hate groups visit The Anti-Defamation League website.