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July 18, 2016

The Washitaw Nation and Moorish Sovereign Citizens: What You Need to Know

GavinLongAfter authorities identified Gavin Eugene Long as the man who shot and killed three police officers from Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge on July 17, unconfirmed media reports claimed that Long (who also used the name Cosmo Setepenra) had connections with the anti-government extremist sovereign citizen movement.

Sovereign citizens believe that a conspiracy subverted and replaced the original U.S. government with an illegitimate “de facto” government, but that people can take steps to divorce themselves from the illegitimate government, after which its laws, taxes, regulations and courts have no more authority over them.

These rumors were soon confirmed—though it is clear that Long’s beliefs also extend far beyond the sovereign citizen movement into other areas as well—with the Kansas City Star unearthing sovereign citizen documents filed by Long that indicated an affiliation with the “Washitaw Nation,” one of many concepts associated with the so-called “Moorish movement,” or “Moorish sovereign movement,” an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement that combines longstanding sovereign citizen beliefs and tactics with some newer, primarily Afrocentric notions.

Moorish sovereign citizens emerged in the mid-1990s on the East Coast when some people began to merge sovereign citizen ideas with some of the beliefs of the Moorish Science Temple, a religious sect dating back to 1913.  As sovereign citizen notions attracted more Moorish Science Temple adherents, the Moorish sovereign movement was born.  While still retaining most “traditional” sovereign citizen pseudo-historical and pseudo-legal theories, Moorish sovereigns added new ideas, including the notion that African-Americans had special rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco, as well as the belief that African-Americans were descended from African “Moors”—and often as well the belief that African-Americans were also a people indigenous to the Americas.

WashitawNationBookThrough the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Moorish sovereign citizen movement grew, generating a large number of groups and gurus to promote Moorish sovereign ideas, it also absorbed other black sovereign groups that had begun independently.  The most important of these was the Washitaw Nation, which began in the mid-1990s in Louisiana, started by the “Empress” Verdiacee “Tiara” Washitaw-Turner Goston El-Bey, who claimed to head the Washitaw Empire.  Washitaw Nation adherents claimed to be descended from the ancient mound-builders of the Mississippi-Missouri Valley and to actually own the Louisiana Purchase.

After the “Empress” retired, the original Washitaw group fell apart, replaced with a variety of different groups and individuals taking up the “Washitaw Nation” mantle.  So today there is not just one “Washitaw Nation,” but many, making it one of the most important wings of the Moorish sovereign citizen movement.

Since 2009, the sovereign citizen movement has experienced a major resurgence, including among African-Americans.  Both Moorish and non-Moorish sovereign citizen ideas have spread rapidly within the African-American community, aided by social media websites such as YouTube and Facebook.   Moorish and non-Moorish sovereign ideas alike have also spread in prisons and jails across the country.

Most sovereign citizens are still white, but in a number of cities with large African-American populations such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and others, African-Americans now comprise the majority of sovereign citizens.  Moorish sovereign citizens can today be found in any area with a substantial African-American population.

Key Attributes of the Moorish Sovereign Citizen Movement

  • Moorish sovereign citizens engage in the same criminal activities as “traditional” sovereign citizens do, including crimes of violence (including against police); scams and frauds; and so-called “paper terrorism” tactics, which typically involves the use of various documents and filings to harass, intimidate and retaliate against police officers, public officials, and others.
  • There is still much overlap between the Moorish sovereign citizen movement and the Moorish Science Temple (one reason many Moorish sovereigns add the words –El or –Bey to their names), but not all Moorish Science Temple adherents are sovereign citizens and some vocally oppose sovereign beliefs.
  • There are also African-American sovereign citizens who do not adopt specifically Moorish sovereign beliefs but only “traditional” sovereign citizen notions.
  • Many Moorish sovereign citizens also promote various Afrocentric “New Age” beliefs and concepts.
  • Though the Moorish sovereign movement is primarily African-American in composition, there are a few white people associated with Moorish groups.  Moreover, Moorish sovereign citizens are not necessarily black separatists nor necessarily connected with other black extremist groups (though there is a small amount of overlap).
  • Like traditional sovereign citizens, Moorish sovereign citizens are heavily reliant upon sovereign “gurus,” who come up with and promote the movement’s ideas and tactics.  Some prominent Moorish sovereign gurus include Taj Tarik Bey; Abdul Ali Muhammad Bey; Queen Vallahra Renita EL Harre,Bey; Irving “Hendo” Henderson; and Washitaw Nation figures Wendy Farica Washitaw and Fredrix “Joe” Washington (granddaughter and son of the “Empress” Verdiacee), among others. Many Moorish sovereign citizens may also follow “traditional” sovereign gurus; of these, David-Wynn Miller seems to be rather influential among some Moorish sovereigns.

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July 6, 2016

Extremists Make Plans For GOP Convention

Updated July 21, 2016

The GOP convention in Cleveland (July 18-21) is a key opportunity for a range of extremists and bigots who seek publicity to voice their support or opposition to Donald Trump – and their hatred for anyone who disagrees with them.

As the Anti-Defamation League has noted, the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign – and one candidate in particular – has elicited unprecedented levels of engagement and enthusiasm among anti-government and white supremacist extremist groups.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has been monitoring extremists’ plans to attend the Republican convention in Cleveland and has shared this information with federal law enforcement agents managing security for the event. We will share new information with those agents as it becomes available.

The following list of expected attendees is varied, ranging from individuals to organized groups. This reflects the support (and sometimes opposition) Donald Trump receives from a wide range of extremists. It should be noted, there is no indication that Trump  supports these groups.

  • Richard Spencer, who heads the National Policy, a small white supremacist think tank, traveled to Cleveland to promote his racist views. Spencer held up a sign saying “Wanna Talk to a ‘Racist’? and reportedly said he “wanted to demystify white separatism” for the people he encountered in the public square near the convention. Spencer also reportedly attended the “Wake Up!” party hosted by conservative activists, which included controversial speakers such as Milos Yiannopoulos and anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician.
  • Members of the anti-refugee vigilante group Soldiers of Odin USA, spotted outside the convention hall in Cleveland, told a reporter they were there as a “community watch” organization and had no plans to confront anyone unless they sensed “imminent danger.” While they claim not to be racist, the Soldiers of Odin USA are in fact virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. The group originated in Finland, but has attracted thousands of members and admirers here in the United States, many of whom are either white supremacists or anti-government extremists.
  • Anti-government conspiracy theorist Alex Jones spoke at a rally for Trump near the convention hall hosting the RNC, where he accused “globalists” of trying to implement a “world government.” Jones runs the Infowars website where he promotes  conspiracy theories such as the idea that the government is behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and  is trying to strip Americans of their rights, especially their rights to free speech and to own firearms.

  • The Traditionalist Worker Party is an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group run by Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott.  They report­edly filed per­mits to march in Cleve­land but later announced alternative plans. Heimbach showed up outside the convention anyway, voicing his disapproval for Trump, whose policies “don’t go far enough” in advancing white nationalism, and urging followers to write in George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.

  • Westboro Baptist Church: Five members of the venomously anti-gayand anti-Semitic Kansas church plan to be in Cleveland to protest the Republican Party and to warn attendees of the “imminent judgment”
    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    facing the United States. WBC members are best known for picketing the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, carrying signs celebrating their deaths (because God hates America’s evil ways). Members of the church are equal opportunity bigots: They also plan to protest at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Expect to see them carrying their usual signs – expressing their boundless, unmoored hatred for everything from gay rights to Israel.

  • Blood and Honour USA: This racist skinhead group is the American chapter of a loose international confederation of hardcore racist skinheads.  Some members of Blood and Honour USA have in the past committed violent acts.  One of the group’s lead­ers announced on social media that he and a num­ber of other mem­bers would be in Cleve­land sup­port­ing Trump and wear­ing t-shirts bear­ing the Totenkopf (death’s head) – a sym­bol used by the SS in World War II.

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

  • American Freedom Party: This white supremacist group is headed by attorney William Johnson. Johnson made headlines in the spring of 2016 with his “robocalls” to voters in crucial primary states, entreating people to “defend the white race” by voting for Trump, and again in May when it was revealed that he was on the list of Trump delegates for California. Blaming a “database error,” the Trump campaign removed Johnson from its list, but AFP responded with this gleeful Facebook message:  “…here’s what they don’t know: we have more delegates!”
  • David Riden (Trump delegate from Tennessee): Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. Riden has said he believes members of the current U.S. government deserve to be killed for “abusing the Constitution.”
  • Jim Stachowiak:  Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. This right-wing, rabidly anti-Muslim extremist from Georgia will be in Cleveland to support Donald Trump, and has called upon “all military veterans, law enforcement veterans, followed by three-percenters, patriots,” to “come lawfully armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry,” has advocated for Mecca to be bombed, and has made not particularly veiled threats against Black Lives Matter activists, whom he refers to as “terrorists.”  Stachowiak, a former university public safety officer turned militia fan boy and online radio host, has been arrested several times.


    The New Black Panther Party at a protest in Charleston, South Carolina

  • The New Black Pan­ther Party: The NBPP will be in Cleve­land to protest against Don­ald Trump. In the days lead­ing up to the con­ven­tion, the pro­foundly anti-Semitic, black supremacy group will hold a series of protests and work­shops in part­ner­ship with Black Lawyers for Jus­tice, which is headed by for­mer NBPP leader (and cur­rent “spir­i­tual advi­sor”) Malik Zulu Shabazz. The NBPP, which is known for its calls for vio­lence against law enforce­ment, has announced plans to carry guns dur­ing its protests in Cleve­land. The New Black Pan­ther Party is not affil­i­ated with the orig­i­nal Black Pan­ther Party, whose mem­bers have harshly crit­i­cized the NBPP for “hijack­ing” the orig­i­nal group’s message.
  • Anti-Muslim activsts: Pro-LGBT conservative activists are hosting a party called “Wake Up“ at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on July 19. The event will feature anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial figure who reportedly made anti-Semitic comments in the past about Jewish control of banks and the media. Other featured speakers include Geert Wilders, a well-known anti-Muslim Dutch politician, and Ann Coulter, a political commentator known for her extreme anti-immigrant position. According to a post on the personal blog of Pamela Geller, “The party is the outcome of discussions among a group of gay Republicans following the tragic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.” This appears to be an attempt to promote an anti-Muslim agenda among this group of pro-LGBT conservatives.
  • The Oath Keepers will be on the ground in Cleveland, ostensibly to “help” patrol the area, as they did with long guns during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown. The anti-government extremist group’s website has denounced “radicals’” plans to protest at the convention, and calls for volunteers to participate in “Operation North Coast,” an “intelligence gathering” effort. This hyper-militarized language is typical of the Oath Keepers, who recruit from the military and law enforcement in their efforts to build a force capable of resisting “government overreach.”

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June 22, 2016

Arrested Homeland Security Analyst Had History of Anti-Government Opinions

JonathanWienkeAn analyst with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis was arrested after a June 9 incident at DHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., when security personnel performing random security checks allegedly discovered that Jonathan Wienke was carrying a concealed handgun, as well as a knife, pepper spray, handcuffs, and other items. Wienke was charged with carrying a pistol without a license.

However, according to news reports, subsequently filed court documents indicate that investigators believe that Wienke may have been “conspiring with another to commit workplace violence, and more particularly may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against senior DHS officials in the building.” Wienke’s residence has been searched and an investigation is ongoing.

Wienke has worked as a “management & program analyst” for DHS since 2010; prior to that, he served in the U.S. Army as well as the U.S. Air Force, and worked as a programmer and network administrator. His hobbies and interests have included photography, radios, electronics, cryptography and, perhaps more than anything else, firearms.

A self-described “gun nut,” Wienke not only collected and shot firearms, but built, customized and re-built guns as well, offering advice on the subject on the many gun-related Internet discussion forums he belonged to. In February 2016, Wienke claimed to have built “a double-digit number of AR-15s” from parts.

Wienke’s attachment to firearms over the past 20+ years seems to have led him at times to some fairly hostile attitudes towards the federal government—ironic, considering his history of employment. In the 1990s, Wienke was a prolific poster to the Cypherpunks mailing list, which contained a number of anti-government extremists (many of them so-called “crypto-anarchists,” angry at 1990s-era government restrictions on cryptography), including James Bell, the sovereign citizen and tax-protester author of the infamous essay “Assassination Politics,” about killing government employees.

On the Cypherpunks mailing list, Wienke frequently equated gun control measures with tyranny and totalitarianism and seemed to sympathize with at least some anti-government conspiracy theories. In 1996, he repeated a fabricated quotation purportedly from Hitler about “full gun registration” being achieved in Nazi Germany in 1935 and asked “1935 Germany = 1996 U.S.?” In 1997, Wienke referenced Shirley Allen, an elderly woman from Illinois who became a cause célèbre for the militia movement in the 1990s for her standoff with local law enforcement who came to escort her to a court-ordered mental evaluation. Wienke claimed that people who opposed the government could be subjected to what he called “psychiatric imbalance allegation” attacks. In January 2000, Wienke urged others to watch the movie “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” a conspiratorial documentary about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff that puts forth the theory that the federal government deliberately massacred the Davidians.

When one Cypherpunk list subscriber asked in 1998 why so many people on the list focused on guns, Wienke replied in terms of using violence against the government:

InfoWar has always been a critical component of MeatWar. Knowing who your enemy is and where he is at makes it much easier to do something about him. Intelligence (in the military sense) and the tools to deny it to your enemy (strong crypto) are of equal importance to weapons. If you know that a homicidal Postal Service employee is standing outside your front door and is preparing to blast it off its hinges and then kill you, this intelligence will do nothing but raise your blood pressure if you have no weapons with which to deal with the situation. (Calling 911 isn’t going to help you much.) If you own several “assault weapons”, but are asleep in the living room when the door comes crashing down, the lack of intel will greatly reduce the effectiveness of said weapons.

I have an equation for this: Effectiveness = Intelligence * Force * Will. I define force as the theoretical ability to inflict damage on an opponent, whether via bad PR, propaganda, lethal or nonlethal weapons, or any other means. Force has 2 components: Materiel and Skill. Thus, Force = Materiel * Skill. (Example: If I own a riot shotgun and appropriate ammunition, and have taken it to the range and familiarized myself with its use, I have the theoretical ability to shoot the aforementioned Homicidal Postal Employee, but mere ownership of the weapon and skill in its use does not guarantee that outcome.) Will is simply the will to fight if necessary.

Although government will always have a higher Force factor than an individual or “the cypherpunks” or a militia, it can be possible to achieve a higher Effectiveness score via higher Intelligence and/or Will factors. This is how we lost the war in Vietnam. We had a much higher Force level than the VC, comparable Intelligence levels, but a much lower Will ratio (at least at the upper decision-making levels). Because of this, our Force assets were bound under all sorts of bizarre restrictions which hampered their usefulness, and we ultimately left in defeat.

In 1997, Wienke counseled another Cypherpunk against provoking a confrontation with the “JBT’s” (“Jack Booted Thugs,” a reference to law enforcement), because the government could use such incidents against activists. On the other hand, Wienke wrote, if one has never threatened anyone before “and several armed individuals kick in your door and you shoot them, you can look much more righteous in the media than if you are constantly calling for the deaths of thousands.” But if the situation were not avoidable, Wienke added, “then ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ (In either case, pass the ammo.)”

In a similar post, Wienke noted that “the people can still protect themselves from jack-booted thugs if they are sufficiently well-armed. This means owning assault weapons. Get them while you can, they’re going fast…and LOTS of ammunition.”

Some of Wienke’s posts to the Cypherpunks list also spoke about using violence against “gang members” and “welfare leeches,” phrases that may have been racist euphemisms about non-whites. Many years later, in 2013, Wienke made a post to Facebook defending George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin and claiming that the “real tragedy” was a “rush to judgment” by the media “and the professional instigators of racial discord,” by which Wienke meant people such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, referring to them as “racial hatemongers” who stoked something “just as ugly and vile as any cross burned in a front yard.”

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