Extremism & Terrorism » ADL Blogs
August 18, 2015 2

California Strengthens Laws Against “Paper Terrorism”

Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor Jerry Brown signed into law this past week a new mea­sure designed to increase pro­tec­tion for Cal­i­for­ni­ans from the so-called “paper ter­ror­ism” tac­tics of anti-government extremists.ab1267

Mem­bers of the anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment often file bogus liens or other sim­i­lar doc­u­ments in order to encum­ber the prop­erty of their ene­mies in retal­i­a­tion for some per­ceived wrong­do­ing. Although fil­ing a bogus lien is a crime in Cal­i­for­nia, once such harass­ing liens are filed, it still takes sig­nif­i­cant time and money for vic­tims to get them removed—which is why they are so effec­tive as a retal­ia­tory tactic.

In the 1990s, Cal­i­for­nia enacted leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide a fast-track removal process for such bogus encum­brances. How­ever, the law only applied to pub­lic offi­cials or employ­ees, com­mon vic­tims of such sov­er­eign cit­i­zen tactics.

Now, thanks to Assem­bly­mem­ber Richard Bloom (D– Santa Mon­ica), who spon­sored the bill, California’s laws will extend fast track pro­tec­tion to pri­vate indi­vid­u­als and busi­nesses who are tar­gets of “paper terrorism.”

Addi­tion­ally, the new law will allow any­one tar­geted by a false encum­brance to seek civil reme­dies up to $5,000. With this leg­is­la­tion, Cal­i­for­nia joins the 25 other states that have passed sim­i­lar laws.

The Anti-Defamation League pro­posed and drafted the mea­sure and, early in the process, helped gain sup­port for it from a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Dis­trict Attor­neys Asso­ci­a­tion and the Cal­i­for­nia Police Chiefs Association.

The bill received bi-partisan and unan­i­mous sup­port in both the Assem­bly and Senate.

Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that gov­ern­ment has no author­ity over them because an insid­i­ous con­spir­acy infil­trated and replaced the orig­i­nal legit­i­mate gov­ern­ment with an ille­git­i­mate, tyran­ni­cal one. They claim to owe alle­giance only to the “orig­i­nal” gov­ern­ment. Con­se­quently, sov­er­eigns often claim that they are out­side the juris­dic­tion of the “ille­git­i­mate” gov­ern­ment and that they can ignore all laws and regulations.

In addi­tion to “paper ter­ror­ism” crimes, sov­er­eigns engage in other ille­gal activ­ity rang­ing from scams and frauds to deadly shootouts and standoffs.

The mort­gage cri­sis and the reces­sion of 2008 sparked a surge in the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment, who exploited the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion to grow in num­bers and activ­ity. The Real Estate Fraud Pros­e­cu­tion Unit of the San Bernardino Dis­trict Attorney’s office, for exam­ple, has esti­mated that their cur­rent case load con­sists of 85% sov­er­eign cit­i­zen cases.

ADL tracks the activ­i­ties of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment and has trained tens of thou­sands of law enforce­ment offi­cers, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, pros­e­cu­tors and judges about the movement’s ide­ol­ogy, activ­i­ties and ille­gal tac­tics, includ­ing ter­ror­ism and deadly violence.

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August 12, 2015 0

From Charleston to Chattanooga: The Face of Terror in America

By Oren Segal and Mark Pit­cav­age
Direc­tors of the Anti-Defamation League’s Cen­ter on Extremism

Ter­ror­ism is some­times referred to as the “face­less enemy,” but it has hardly been face­less in the United States this sum­mer.  Too many peo­ple have emerged from the shad­ows to inflict death and suffering.

The parade of vio­lence has seemed unend­ing, from Elton Simp­son and Nadir Soofi, who attacked police offi­cers pro­vid­ing secu­rity for the so-called “Muham­mad Art Exhibit” in Texas in May, to John Houser, the Hitler-admiring man obsessed with the moral decay of Amer­ica who recently opened fire at a Louisiana movie the­ater show­ing the movie Train­wreck.

Of the var­i­ous killers and would-be killers this sum­mer, two stand out.  The first is Dylann Storm Roof, the white suprema­cist who allegedly con­fessed to the June mas­sacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Car­olina, that left nine African-Americans dead.dylann-storm-roof-gun-confederate-flag-600

The sec­ond is Muham­mad Youssef Abdu­lazeez, who in July engaged in a shoot­ing spree tar­get­ing a Chat­tanooga mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter and a nearby naval reserve cen­ter.  Abdu­lazeez, who may have been inspired by rad­i­cal Mus­lim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed five people—all mil­i­tary personnel—before being killed by police.

In many ways, Roof and Abdu­lazeez per­son­ify America’s ter­ror­ist threat; they are the faces of the “face­less enemy.”  Most obvi­ously, each rep­re­sents a major source of ter­ror­ism.  Roof was a white suprema­cist who allegedly hoped to start a “race war” in which whites would pre­vail.  White suprema­cists have for decades been the most pro­lific source of domes­tic extremist-related lethal vio­lence.  Along with the other main seg­ment of the extreme right, anti-government mili­tia groups and sov­er­eign cit­i­zens, they are respon­si­ble for the great major­ity of extremist-related deaths in the U.S.

Abdu­lazeez, on whom there is less infor­ma­tion regard­ing moti­va­tion, may well have latched onto the ideas of al-Awlaki—including his encour­age­ment of attacks on mil­i­tary targets—as a way to atone for some of his per­sonal demons, includ­ing drugs and alco­hol.  Domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists have in recent years attempted or con­ducted a large num­ber of ter­ror­ist plots, con­spir­a­cies and acts, despite being fewer in num­ber than right-wing extremists.

Both men also chose tar­gets typ­i­cal of their move­ments.  For Abdu­lazeez, it was the mil­i­tary; here he fol­lowed in the foot­steps of Abdul­hakim Mujahid Muham­mad, who killed a sol­dier at a recruit­ing cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, in 2009, and Nidal Malik Has­san, who killed 13 peo­ple at Fort Hood, Texas, that same year.  Other Islamic extrem­ists have also recently plot­ted attacks against mil­i­tary tar­gets in the U.S., though with­out success.mohammad-youssef-abdulazeez

Roof went on a shoot­ing ram­page against African-Americans.  Sprees of vio­lence against racial, eth­nic, or reli­gious minori­ties are a com­mon type of white suprema­cist ter­ror­ism.  In recent years, there have been a num­ber of such episodes, includ­ing Fra­zier Glenn Miller’s attacks on Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in Over­land Park, Kansas, in 2014; Wade Michael Page’s ram­page at a Sikh tem­ple in Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, in 2012, and Keith Luke’s attacks on African immi­grants in Brock­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts, in 2009.

Both Roof and Abdu­lazeez used firearms for their attacks, which is also typ­i­cal of Amer­i­can ter­ror­ism.  Although the pub­lic usu­ally thinks of ter­ror­ism in terms of bombs, ter­ror­ists like Ted Kaczyn­ski and the Boston Marathon bombers are rare in Amer­ica.  The vast major­ity of extremist-related mur­ders involve guns—easy to acquire, sim­ple to use, and deadly.  This is why Charleston and Chat­tanooga num­ber among the 10 dead­liest extremist-related attacks of the past 50 years.  Indeed, with the excep­tion of the Okla­homa City bomb­ing, the “top 10” attacks all involved firearms.

Abdu­lazeez and Roof were both young men, dis­af­fected, fac­ing per­sonal stresses of dif­fer­ent kinds (Abdu­lazeez also suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness).  Although ter­ror­ism knows no age limits—Nidal Hasan was 39 at the time of his Fort Hood ram­page, while white suprema­cist James Von Brunn, who attacked the U.S. Holo­caust Memo­r­ial Museum in 2009, was in his late 80s—many of the attacks and plots in recent years by both Islamic and right-wing extrem­ists have been com­mit­ted by men in their mid-20s or younger.

Like Abdu­lazeez and Roof, a num­ber of these extrem­ists com­mit­ted their attacks as lone wolves, unat­tached to any par­tic­u­lar group.  Over­all, the num­ber of lethal lone wolf attacks in the past two decades has been fairly low, num­ber­ing only a few dozen, but in recent years, lone wolves seem to have been emerg­ing at a faster rate.  One rea­son may be the increas­ing role played by the Inter­net in facil­i­tat­ing self-radicalization.  It was through the Inter­net that Roof edu­cated him­self in white supremacy; it was via the Inter­net that Abdu­lazeez down­loaded record­ings of al-Awlaki.

Here one can see a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between right-wing extrem­ists and domes­tic Islamic rad­i­cals.  While they can both eas­ily immerse them­selves in a sea of on-line pro­pa­ganda designed to instill and rein­force extreme views, right-wing extrem­ist Inter­net sources are pri­mar­ily based in the United States and, there­fore, must watch what they say.  White suprema­cists who openly use the Inter­net to encour­age vio­lence and ter­ror­ism open them­selves up to crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion and, if vio­lence occurs, pos­si­ble civil lia­bil­ity; as a result, their encour­age­ment of vio­lence is often more implicit than explicit.

Domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, in con­trast, receive most of their rad­i­cal­iz­ing mes­sages from abroad, from ter­ror­ist groups and like-minded sup­port­ers who are freer to use the Inter­net to call for vio­lence and ter­ror­ism within the U.S.  Pro­pa­ganda from Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, for exam­ple, was an inspi­ra­tion for the Boston Marathon bomb­ing.  In the past two years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken such tac­tics to a new level alto­gether, employ­ing a vir­tual army of on-line recruiters who use social media plat­forms to reach and rad­i­cal­ize sus­cep­ti­ble indi­vid­u­als across the globe.  Seek­ing to instill a deep sense of com­mu­nity and pur­pose, ISIS sup­port­ers encour­age Amer­i­cans to come to the Mid­dle East to help it fight its wars—many of the 80+ U.S. res­i­dents linked to Islamic extrem­ist activ­ity since 2014 have made such attempts. But ISIS also urges peo­ple to launch attacks in the U.S.

Roof and Abdu­lazeez were both cold-blooded killers.  Their attacks deeply affected the cit­i­zens of Charleston and Chat­tanooga and, indeed, the whole coun­try, though not always in the same ways.  In par­tic­u­lar, the Chat­tanooga shoot­ings, like some sim­i­lar attacks before them, stirred anti-Muslim sen­ti­ments directed at America’s entire Mus­lim com­mu­nity, a dis­turb­ing phe­nom­e­non for which there is no par­al­lel with regard to white suprema­cist attacks.

But their attacks were sim­i­lar in that they were both essen­tially futile, able to achieve lit­tle but death and mis­ery.  Indeed, the reac­tions to the attacks illus­trate just how inef­fec­tive they actu­ally were.  The Chat­tanooga attack, for exam­ple, inspired an out­pour­ing of sup­port for the U.S. mil­i­tary. The Charleston response was even more pow­er­ful.  Far from start­ing a “race war,” Roof’s slaugh­ter not only brought Charlesto­ni­ans of all races together but also resulted in a bipar­ti­san effort to remove the Con­fed­er­ate flag from the South Car­olina capitol.

Amer­i­can extrem­ists, of what­ever stripe, can hurt and even kill, but the one thing they can’t do is win.

Mr. Segal is an author­ity on Islamic extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the United States; Dr. Pit­cav­age is an expert on right-wing extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the United States.

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August 11, 2015 6

White Supremacists Relish “Cuckservative” Controversy

The polit­i­cal pun­ditry over the use of the con­tro­ver­sial term “cuck­ser­v­a­tive” may have died down this week but the white suprema­cists who orig­i­nally pop­u­lar­ized the word’s use are still quite pleased about get­ting credit for bring­ing the term into main­stream consciousness.

cuckservative immigration

Andrew Anglin, the white suprema­cist who runs the pop­u­lar neo-Nazi web­site Daily Stormer, claimed recently that “We have been given a gift with the res­onat­ing #cuck­ser­v­a­tive meme, and we must make cer­tain to milk it for all it’s worth.”

The neol­o­gism “cuck­ser­v­a­tive,” a com­bi­na­tion of “con­ser­v­a­tive” and “cuck­old,” is used by white suprema­cists to describe a white Chris­t­ian con­ser­v­a­tive who pro­motes the inter­ests of Jews and non-whites over those of whites.

For white suprema­cists, the term is explic­itly about race and iden­tity and essen­tially describes what other white suprema­cists might term “race trai­tors.”   Who first coined the term is not clear, but what is clear is that white suprema­cists became its first early adopters.

Many white suprema­cists using the term “cuck­ser­v­a­tive” are from the “alter­na­tive right” a term used by white suprema­cists to refer to rene­gade con­ser­v­a­tives who have adopted white suprema­cist view­points and have essen­tially removed them­selves from main­stream conservatism.

The term “cuck­ser­v­a­tive” likely got its start on social media. In June, some­one began using the Twit­ter han­dle “The Cuck­ser­v­a­tive” and post­ing racist and big­oted tweets but the term may have been in use ear­lier. On July 15, a blog­ger named Alfred W. Clark wrote about the term “#cuck­ser­v­a­tive” in a blog called Occam’s Razor and com­mented that it was spread­ing through­out the alter­na­tive right.

Richard Spencer, who founded the white suprema­cist jour­nal Radix and runs the National Pol­icy Insti­tute, a white suprema­cist “think tank,” re-posted the arti­cle in Radix on July 16. One week later, con­ser­v­a­tive Red State blog­ger Erick Erick­son tweeted that the term was “a slur against Chris­t­ian vot­ers coined by white supremacists.”

From there, polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors from both the left and right began writ­ing about the term cuck­ser­v­a­tive and argu­ing that it had made its way into main­stream con­ser­vatism when it appears that few peo­ple other than white suprema­cists were using the term. Some com­men­ta­tors made ref­er­ence to Rush Lim­baugh using it on his talk show radio pro­gram on July 22 but Lim­baugh actu­ally did not men­tion the word cuck­ser­v­a­tive but used sim­i­lar lan­guage say­ing that Don­ald Trump was dif­fer­ent from “your aver­age, ordi­nary, cuck­olded Republican.” cuckservative MLK

White suprema­cists rou­tinely seek to insert their slogans—and ideas—into the main­stream, try­ing to find a wider audi­ence for their views. From their so-called “14 words” slo­gan (“We must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for white chil­dren”) to white suprema­cist Bob Whitaker’s numer­ous racist pro­pa­ganda mantras (e.g., “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white”), white suprema­cists have tried many times—generally with­out success—to have their ideas become part of the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion. For them, accep­tance of cuck­ser­v­a­tive into main­stream dis­course seems a rare “victory.”

White suprema­cists hope that the pub­lic­ity sur­round­ing cuck­ser­v­a­tive may attract dis­af­fected whites, angry at or dis­sat­is­fied with pop­u­lar main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives, to their own rad­i­cally racist move­ment instead.

In recent weeks, a range of white suprema­cists have writ­ten about the impor­tance of the cuck­ser­v­a­tive meme to the racist right. Kevin Mac­Don­ald, a retired anti-Semitic pro­fes­sor and a leader in the white suprema­cist Amer­i­can Free­dom Party, wrote in his online jour­nal Occi­den­tal Observer that the cuck­ser­v­a­tive meme is “brash, witty” and “a new art form.” He added that the meme is “a great exam­ple of the new intel­lec­tual and moral con­fi­dence among white advo­cates,” and that its pop­u­lar­ity shows that “internet-savvy and socially adept Whites” are attracted to the white suprema­cist cause.

Greg John­son, who founded the white suprema­cist online jour­nal Counter-Currents, said in a recent arti­cle on that site that the “cuck­ser­v­a­tive con­tro­versy is an impor­tant oppor­tu­nity for White Nation­al­ists.” He adds that it was an oppor­tu­nity for white Amer­i­cans to real­ize that “whites are being demo­graph­i­cally dis­placed because of polit­i­cal policies.”

In an arti­cle in the white suprema­cist jour­nal Radix, Gre­gory Hood, a writer for a num­ber of white suprema­cist online pub­li­ca­tions, asserted that the cuck­ser­v­a­tive meme shows that the “alt.Right is ironic, sub­ver­sive and cyn­i­cal. It’s about turn­ing the tac­tics of the Left back on itself, decon­struct­ing the tropes and nar­ra­tives forced upon us.”

Spencer claimed that “#Cuck­ser­v­a­tive is, put sim­ply, impor­tant: it has got­ten under the skin of our ene­mies and has become a har­bin­ger for some­thing beyond con­ser­vatism. Thus, it is impor­tant that we get it right—and not allow the meme to be turned into just another syn­onym for ‘liberal.’”

The term “cuck­ser­v­a­tive” like most neol­o­gisms, prob­a­bly will have a lim­ited shelf-life, but white suprema­cists hope its usage will con­tinue far into the future.

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