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March 4, 2016 1

Multi-State Indictments Bring Bundy-Related Arrests To 38

Updated March 22, 2016, to reflect addi­tional charges and defen­dants.

In early March, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Las Vegas announced charges against 14 anti-government extrem­ists from a vari­ety of states in con­nec­tion with a 2014 armed stand­off between the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and sup­port­ers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy at Bundy’s ranch.  Pros­e­cu­tors added addi­tional defen­dants later in the month.  As of March 22, 19 peo­ple have been indicted for that con­fronta­tion, includ­ing Bundy him­self and four of his sons.

Many of those indicted on charges related to the Bundy Ranch stand­off, or present at that stand­off but not indicted, have also sep­a­rately been indicted in con­nec­tion with the more recent armed stand­off at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore­gon, in January-February 2016. This includes alleged ring­leader Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, both sons of Cliven Bundy.  As of March 22, 26 peo­ple have been indicted on var­i­ous charges related to the Mal­heur standoff.

Almost all of the orga­niz­ers and many of the par­tic­i­pants of the 2016 stand­off in Ore­gon had taken part in the ear­lier stand­off in Nevada.

The below chart shows the 38 peo­ple indicted so far in the two armed con­fronta­tions. More indict­ments may be forthcoming.

Bundy Standoffs Chart 3-22-16

 

 

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January 3, 2016 3

Militia Standoff in Oregon: Expected and Unexpected

jonritzheimerhammondjustification (1)

Jon Ritzheimer video jus­ti­fy­ing his actions

Armed anti-government activists asso­ci­ated with mili­tia groups and other right-wing extrem­ist move­ments seized con­trol of the head­quar­ters build­ing for the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan­u­ary 2, 2016, pre­cip­i­tat­ing what is, in effect, an armed stand­off with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. 
 
Though some sort of con­fronta­tion between mili­tia activists and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in the Pacific North­west has been brew­ing for months, the seizure itself is unusual and a new depar­ture for anti-government extrem­ists.
 
The action was taken because of anger over the sit­u­a­tion of father and son ranch­ers in Har­ney County in south­east Ore­gon.  The ranch­ers, Dwight Ham­mond, Jr., and Steven Ham­mond, were con­victed of arson for set­ting fire to around 130 acres of fed­eral land, but were given light sen­tences.  An appel­late court ruled that their sen­tences were too short and man­dated new sen­tences of 4–5 years.  They were ordered to report to fed­eral prison on Jan­u­ary 4.
 
Many peo­ple were sym­pa­thetic to the per­ceived plight of the Ham­monds, but it was right-wing anti-government extrem­ists in par­tic­u­lar who adopted the ranch­ers as a cause célèbre, using them to mobi­lize anger at the gov­ern­ment.  Their “adop­tion” of the Ham­monds was hardly sur­pris­ing, as mili­tia groups, Oath Keep­ers, Three Per­centers and other anti-government extrem­ists have actively been seek­ing con­fronta­tions with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for more than a year now, thanks to the Cliven Bundy stand­off of 2014.
 
Cliven Bundy is a Nevada rancher who got into trou­ble with the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment for graz­ing his cat­tle on fed­eral land with­out proper per­mits.  In March 2014, the BLM began to remove Bundy’s cat­tle from fed­eral land but were stopped by a group of armed pro­test­ers.  This pre­cip­i­tated the stand­off, in which right-wing extrem­ists from around the coun­try made their way to the Bundy ranch to “pro­tect” Cliven Bundy and his prop­erty from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.  Bundy, who shared some of their anti-government views, wel­comed the sup­port.  Dur­ing the stand­off, armed extrem­ists allegedly pointed weapons at fed­eral and local law enforce­ment offi­cers. 
 
In the end, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment backed down and stopped the con­fis­ca­tion oper­a­tion, leav­ing Bundy and his mili­tia sup­port­ers to declare vic­tory.  The inci­dent was viewed by the mili­tia move­ment and related groups as a huge suc­cess and one that should be repli­cated else­where if pos­si­ble. 
 
Since the Bundy stand­off, anti-government extrem­ists have actively been seek­ing other future “Bundys” around which they could rally.  Sev­eral of the prime can­di­dates for future con­fronta­tions have been located in the Pacific North­west.  In par­tic­u­lar, anti-government extrem­ists have ral­lied in 2015 to “help” mine own­ers in Ore­gon (the Sugar Pine Mine near Mer­lin) and Mon­tana (the White Hope Mine near Lin­coln) who each had dis­putes with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, caus­ing many to fear the pos­si­bil­ity of some sort of armed clash.
 
In the end, how­ever, it was the Ham­monds who ended up being the new “Bundys,” though they them­selves do not appear to have sup­ported or con­doned the seizure of the fed­eral build­ing and have said they will report to prison as ordered.  This does not seem to have deterred the activists, sev­eral of whom have direct ties to the Bundy stand­off.  Indeed, two of the peo­ple involved, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are in fact sons of Cliven Bundy.  Mili­tia activist Ryan Payne of Mon­tana is another vet­eran of the Bundy stand­off allegedly involved in the seizure.  Also promi­nent is Ari­zona extrem­ist Jon Ritzheimer, who has recently orga­nized anti-Muslim events and threat­ened to arrest elected offi­cials.
 
But if some sort of clash was expected and if many of the play­ers involved are famil­iar faces, what is def­i­nitely new is the spe­cific tac­tic of seiz­ing and hold­ing the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters. 
 
Right-wing stand­offs and con­fronta­tions with gov­ern­ment or law enforce­ment over­whelm­ingly take one of two forms.  The first is when extrem­ists rally to “pro­tect” per­ceived vic­tims of gov­ern­ment, such as peo­ple who face their home or land being seized for non-payment of taxes.  The Bundy stand­off is an exam­ple of such a con­fronta­tion, which takes place at the loca­tion of the per­ceived vic­tim.  The sec­ond is the typ­i­cal “bar­ri­caded felon” sit­u­a­tion in which an extrem­ist who has com­mit­ted a crime or is a fugi­tive has holed up some­where and will not sur­ren­der.  The Mon­tana Free­man stand­off of 1996 was such a con­fronta­tion. 
 
In this case, how­ever, right-wing extrem­ists proac­tively seized and are hold­ing a gov­ern­ment building—a sym­bolic tar­get.  Such a tac­tic has his­tor­i­cally been far more com­mon with left-wing activists or extrem­ists, includ­ing the seizure of many uni­ver­sity build­ings in the 1960s and 70s, as well as other loca­tions or places, such as the takeover of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973.
 
Because this is a new tac­tic for anti-government extrem­ists, it remains unclear how the sce­nario is likely to play itself out.  But since the build­ing they seized was empty at the time and there is no hostage sit­u­a­tion, it is likely that fed­eral author­i­ties will be slow and delib­er­ate in their response in order to min­i­mize the pos­si­bil­ity of violence.

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December 3, 2015 0

Bonnie and Clydes Rare—But Not Unheard Of—In Violent Extremism

Syed Farook

Syed Farook

Back­ground infor­ma­tion on Syed Farook and Tash­feen Malik, the mar­ried per­pe­tra­tors of the tragic mass shoot­ing at the Inland Regional Cen­ter in San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, is still sparse, as is clar­ity con­cern­ing the motive behind the vicious attack that left 14 dead and 21 wounded.

How­ever, accord­ing to media reports from the in-progress inves­ti­ga­tion, there is grow­ing con­cern among law enforce­ment offi­cials that the shoot­ings may have had a con­nec­tion to Islamic extrem­ism or that there might have been a mixed extremist/workplace motive behind them.  The FBI has said that it is now treat­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion of the killings as a counter-terrorism investigation.

One thing that is exceed­ingly rare in tra­di­tional work­place shoot­ings is for there to be mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors, as there was in this case.  As one law enforce­ment offi­cial told The New York Times, “You don’t take your wife to a work­place shoot­ing, and espe­cially not as pre­pared as they were.  He could have been rad­i­cal­ized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dis­pute at work and decided to do something.”

Mul­ti­ple per­pe­tra­tors are cer­tainly com­mon in extremist-related crimes, of course, despite the exis­tence of the “lone wolf” phe­nom­e­non.  Women are also fre­quently involved in extremist-related crim­i­nal activ­ity in almost every extrem­ist move­ment in the United States.

How­ever, when one exam­ines recent crim­i­nal cases in the U.S. involv­ing domes­tic Islamic extrem­ists, one finds that female part­ners of male perpetrators—even when them­selves involved in crim­i­nal activities—have not typ­i­cally engaged in vio­lence.  Over­seas, women have some­times taken on more vio­lent roles, includ­ing as sui­cide bombers.

If an Islamic extrem­ist motive is con­firmed in the San Bernardino shoot­ings, the fact of husband-and-wife shoot­ers would be a new wrin­kle in the his­tory of the vio­lent tac­tics of that move­ment in the United States.

Extremist-related vio­lence involv­ing hus­bands and wives—or non-married partners—is actu­ally not unheard of in the United States, but it tends to come from a very dif­fer­ent source:  right-wing extrem­ism.  Though not what one could call a com­mon phe­nom­e­non, such vio­lent “Bon­nie and Clyde” cou­ples do emerge with reg­u­lar­ity from within both the white suprema­cist and anti-government extrem­ist move­ments in the United States.

In fact, right-wing extrem­ism even pro­duced an exam­ple of the exceed­ingly rare phe­nom­e­non of a mar­ried cou­ple both of whom were on death row:  anti-government extrem­ists Linda Lyon Block and George Sib­ley.  In 1993, the two sov­er­eign cit­i­zens non-fatally stabbed Block’s ex-husband, then while on the run mur­dered an Alabama police offi­cer in a shootout.  Both were exe­cuted in the 2000s.

In more recent years, extrem­ist cou­ples have been involved with every­thing from stand­offs with police to hate crimes to ter­ror­ist con­spir­a­cies.  But some of the most shock­ing “Bon­nie and Clyde” inci­dents have involved mul­ti­ple homi­cides com­mit­ted by white suprema­cists and anti-government extremists:

  • Jerad and Amanda Miller, a young mar­ried cou­ple who adhered to the anti-government ide­ol­ogy of the mili­tia move­ment, tar­geted two Las Vegas police offi­cers for assas­si­na­tion in June 2014, killing them at a pizza restau­rant as they ate their Sun­day lunch.  The cou­ple crossed the street to a Wal-mart in antic­i­pa­tion of a final shootout with first respon­ders, where Amanda killed an armed civil­ian try­ing to stop them.  As they had intended, they did both die dur­ing a shootout with law enforce­ment at the store, with a wounded Amanda killing her­self after Jerad was shot.
  • Jeremy and Chris­tine Moody, white suprema­cists from Union County, South Car­olina, killed a nearby mar­ried cou­ple in July 2013 in a par­tic­u­larly grisly dou­ble homi­cide in which both vic­tims were shot and stabbed.  The Moodys had tar­geted the vic­tim because they wanted to kill a reg­is­tered sex offender and found the male victim’s name and address on the Inter­net.  They killed his wife because she had mar­ried a sex offender.  Both pleaded guilty to mur­der in 2014, receiv­ing life sen­tences with no parole, but were unre­pen­tant, with Chris­tine Moody call­ing the day of the mur­ders “the best day of my life.”
  • Holly Grigsby and David Ped­er­sen, a white suprema­cist cou­ple from Ore­gon, embarked upon a multi-state mur­der spree in 2011 that totaled four killed before police could find and stop them.  The pair trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton to mur­der Pederson’s father and step­mother, each killing one vic­tim, then killed a young man in Ore­gon to steal his car and because they thought he might be Jew­ish.  They killed an African-American man in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia in another car­jack­ing attempt, though they did not end up tak­ing the vehi­cle, then were finally appre­hended by the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Patrol.  Grigsby told the arrest­ing offi­cers that they were to Sacra­mento to “kill more Jews” when they were stopped.  Both pleaded guilty to a vari­ety of crimes and received life sentences.

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