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September 1, 2015

Deadly Violence, Plots Mark Right-Wing Extremist Courtroom Dramas

Judges and juries in Kansas, California and Georgia have ruled in a trio of important criminal cases involving white supremacists, anti-government sovereign citizens, and militia groups who engaged in violence or conspiracies.

Brent Douglas Cole

Brent Douglas Cole

On Monday, August 31, a jury in Olathe, Kansas, convicted long-time white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller (also known as Frazier Glenn Cross) on capital murder, attempted murder, assault and weapons charges for his 2014 shooting attack that killed three at Jewish institutions in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

Miller, who defended himself, attempted to argue during his trial that he was justified in killing Jews, because they were committing “genocide” against white people. After the jury read its verdict, Miller shouted “Sieg Heil,” while giving a Nazi salute.

In federal court in Sacramento, California, meanwhile, another extremist learned of his fate. Brent Douglas Cole, an adherent of the sovereign citizen movement, received a 29-year, seven-month sentence for his role in a shootout in 2014. Sovereign citizens believe that the government is illegitimate, because a conspiracy long ago subverted the original government and replaced it with a tyrannical one, and that it has no authority over them.

In June 214, a Bureau of Land Management ranger discovered Cole had set up a campsite on public land and had a motorcycle at the campsite that had been reported stolen. When the ranger and a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to impound that motorcycle, as well as one with expired tags, Cole confronted the officers. When one attempted to place handcuffs on Cole, the sovereign citizen opened fire on the officers, injuring both of them, before subsequently giving himself up. He was convicted in February 2015 of assault on a federal officer which inflicted bodily injury and other charges.

Finally, a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, sentenced three members of a militia group to prison after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Brian Cannon, Terry Peace and Cory Williamson were members of a north Georgia militia cell that plotted terrorist attacks against the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government targets, hoping that the government would over-react and, in turn, cause militia groups around the country to rise up in arms.

After an associate of the three men alerted the FBI to the plotters’ intentions, the FBI set up a sting operation. After Peace told the informant that he needed thermite charges and pipe bombs, the informant offered to get the explosives for him. In February 2014, FBI agents arrested the trio of militiamen as the received the (inert) explosive devices from the informant. Their would-be revolution was thwarted.

In many respects, these three incidents collectively highlight the major dangers coming from the extreme right in the 21st Century. Miller engaged in a deadly attack directed against Jews, a perceived “racial enemy.” The shooting spree presaged the even more deadly attack against African-Americans by Dylann Storm Roof in June 2015. Cole engaged in unplanned, spontaneous violence against law enforcement officers—one of the major threats posed by the sovereign citizen movement. And the militiamen in North Georgia engaged in a conspiracy to attack government targets; just the latest in a long series of such plots and conspiracies stemming from the militia movement.

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April 7, 2015

Right-wing Terror Attacks in U.S. Approach 1990s Levels

Recent terrorist attacks, plots and conspiracies by right-wing extremists in the United States are approaching the level of attacks in the mid-1990s when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, based on a chronology of such attacks compiled by the Anti-Defamation League.  The chronology was released as part of ADL’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.right-wing_plots_attacks_1995-2014

The list of right-wing attacks and attempted attacks chronicles 120 different incidents between January 1995 and December 2014, illustrating a steady stream of domestic terror incidents in the United States stemming from extreme-right movements over the past two decades.  Targets included ethnic and religious minorities, government officials and buildings, law enforcement officers, abortion clinics and their staff, and others.

Examined over time, the attacks illustrate the two major surges of right-wing extremism that the United States has experienced in the past 20 years.  The first began in the mid-1990s and lasted until the end of the decade.  The second surge began in the late 2000s and has not yet died down.

During both surges, the number of right-wing terror attacks and conspiracies outnumbered those in the intervening period.  From 1995 through 2000, 47 incidents occurred, while from 2009 through 2014, 42 incidents took place.  The eight-year intervening period of 2001-08 produced 31 attacks.  The surge of recent years has not produced a two-year period with as many incidents as the years 1995-1996, which had a high of 18 attacks, but it has come close, with 16 attacks for the years 2011-12.

When analyzed on the basis of perpetrator ideology, the list shows that the various white supremacist and anti-government extremist movements have produced the vast majority of the right-wing terrorist incidents over the past 20 years, with 50 each.  Anti-abortion extremists come in third place with 13 incidents.right-wing_terrorism_by_movement_1995-2014

Incidents on the list include terrorist acts and plots by white supremacists, anti-government extremists, anti-abortion extremists, anti-immigration extremists, anti-Muslim extremists, and others.  The list does not include spontaneous acts of violence by right-wing extremists, such as killings committed during traffic stops, nor does it include lesser incidents of extremist violence or non-ideological violence committed by extremists.

Some incidents had perpetrators who adhered to more than one ideological movement; in such cases, the movement that seemed most important to the perpetrator was used for categorization.  Categorization was by perpetrator ideology rather than type of target, a fact important to note, as different movements sometimes chose the same type of target (white supremacists and anti-abortion extremists both targeted abortion clinics, for example), while some perpetrators chose targets that did not closely tie in with their main ideology (such as anti-abortion extremist Eric Rudolph targeting the 1996 Atlanta Olympics).  The 2001 plot by the Jewish Defense League to attack Muslim-related targets in California is not listed, as ADL includes such incidents under Jewish nationalist extremism rather than right-wing extremism.

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November 26, 2014

Arrested Black Panther Also Involved in Sovereign Citizen Movement

Update — 9/3/15: Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Orlando Baldwin were each sentenced in a federal court to seven years in prison.

Update — 6/2/15: Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Orlando Baldwin each pleaded guilty to four explosives and gun charges that will carry seven-year prison terms when they are sentenced Aug. 31.

Update — 4/2/15: Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Orlando Baldwin were indicted on additional charges involving the conspiracy to use bombs to commit “violent acts”  and the illegal purchase of firearms.

Federal agents arrested two New Black Panther Party members (NBPP) in St. Louis on November 21, accusing Olajuwon Ali and Brandon Baldwin of illegal straw purchases of handguns.  Some media have cited anonymous sources alleging that the pair also attempted to purchase pipe bombs.olajuwon-ali-document

One of the accused, Olajuwon Ali, 22, is the head of the NBPP’s St. Louis Chapter, but he also has been active in a very different extremist movement:  the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement.

The sovereign citizen movement has experienced rapid recent growth, particularly in its Afro-centric “Moorish” offshoot.  “Moorish” sovereigns emerged in the mid-1990s when members of the Moorish Science Temple (MST), a religious sect, attempted to meld their beliefs with that of the sovereign citizen movement.  Sovereign beliefs have since spread widely among MST adherents, and later to other African-Americans, bringing new adherents to what historically has been considered a right-wing extremist movement.

Ali is typical of many new recruits to the “Moorish” movement.  Although there is evidence that Ali may have encountered sovereign citizen ideology as early as 2010, when still a teenager, it was in April 2013 that he formally joined the movement, filing an “Abjuration of Citizenship” document declaring himself  an “aboriginal/indigenous, free Sovereign Moor – Natural Person of the Land.”

The document, as well as a Moorish identification card that Ali has used, appear to come from an influential New Jersey-based Moorish group led by R. V. Bey.  One of the signatures on the document seems to be that of one of R. V. Bey’s prominent disciples.

Another signature on Ali’s document belongs to Kusu ra Kush Bey, aka Chester Wilson, a St. Louis-based Moorish sovereign.  In the same month that Ali filed his “abjuration,” the FBI arrested Wilson for his alleged involvement in a major multi-state car theft ring.

Ali himself had a brush with the law only months after declaring his sovereignty.  In June 2013, St. Louis police arrested Ali for trespassing, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace following an incident in which Ali allegedly attempted to use a Moorish identification card at a convenience store to demand “tax-free” purchases.  Ali, tased during the incident, later described his arrest as “unlawful” and himself as a “victim of police brutality.”

Ali’s legal troubles took up much of his time, but he found a new source for activism following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014.  That month, Ali, calling himself a “Minister of Justice and Law,” offered a “Lessons of Law Class (Post-Mike Brown)” to inform African-Americans of their “Constitutional, Universal Human, and Indigenous Rights.”

The shooting also gave Ali an opportunity to join NBPP activism with Moorish activism.  On August 13, Ali composed a lengthy, sovereign-style “Affidavit of Fact” directed to the mayor of Ferguson  in which he asserted that claims the NBPP had encouraged violence were “false propaganda [sic]” released by “European owned” media stations.  He also accused the city of Ferguson with the “GENOCIDE AND MURDER OF Aboriginal Indigenous American Michael Brown Jr.”

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