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White-power groups recruiting from military

by Jim Pop­kin

White-suprema­cist groups have recruit­ed 203 peo­ple who served in the U.S. mil­i­tary or who claim to have U.S. mil­i­tary back­grounds, accord­ing to a new report by the FBI. The unclas­si­fied FBI Intel­li­gence Assess­ment, issued last week and obtained by NBC News, cau­tions that white-pow­er extrem­ists are try­ing hard to recruit active-duty sol­diers and recent vet­er­ans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“White suprema­cist extrem­ists hope to revi­tal­ize the white suprema­cist move­ment by exploit­ing antigov­ern­ment sen­ti­ment among oppo­nents of the over­seas con­flicts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the FBI report states. It adds, how­ev­er, that the effort is not going par­tic­u­lar­ly well. “Although some vet­er­ans of these con­flicts have joined the extrem­ist move­ment, they have not done so in num­bers suf­fi­cient to stem declines among major nation­al extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions, nor has their par­tic­i­pa­tion result­ed in a more vio­lent extrem­ist move­ment,” the FBI writes.

The report, titled “White Suprema­cist Recruit­ment of Mil­i­tary Per­son­nel since 9/11,” com­piles sta­tis­tics from hun­dreds of FBI cas­es from Octo­ber 2001 to May 2008. It finds that U.S. mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence “is found through­out the white suprema­cist extrem­ist move­ment.” It adds: “FBI report­ing indi­cates extrem­ist lead­ers have his­tor­i­cal­ly favored recruit­ing active and for­mer mil­i­tary per­son­nel for their knowl­edge of firearms, explo­sives, and tac­ti­cal skills and their access to weapons and intel­li­gence in prepa­ra­tion for an antic­i­pat­ed war against the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, Jews, and peo­ple of col­or.”

And it’s not just vet­er­ans who are drawn to the cause. “FBI cas­es also doc­u­ment instances of active duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel hav­ing vol­un­teered their pro­fes­sion­al resources to white suprema­cist caus­es,” the report states. The FBI finds that “an esti­mat­ed 19 vet­er­ans (approx­i­mate­ly 9 per­cent of the 203) have ver­i­fied or unver­i­fied ser­vice in the ongo­ing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Reac­tion from Watch­dog Groups:
NBC News shared the bul­letin, pre­pared by the FBI Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Divi­sion, with Mark Potok of the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter. Potok is an expert on extrem­ist groups, and helped pre­pare a report called “A Few Bad Men,” on how “extrem­ists are once again worm­ing their way into a recruit-starved mil­i­tary.”

“This is a gen­uine­ly impor­tant report,” Potok said. “The FBI has con­firmed what the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter dis­closed in a major inves­ti­ga­tion — that rad­i­cal right-wing extrem­ists have infil­trat­ed the mil­i­tary in a bid to gain weapons and oth­er spe­cial­ized train­ing, and that many for­mer mil­i­tary mem­bers are a part of orga­nized white suprema­cist groups.”

“The fact is, even if their num­bers are small, vio­lent white suprema­cists armed with the best mil­i­tary train­ing in the world are a real pres­ence in hate groups today. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that Tim­o­thy McVeigh, who mur­dered 168 peo­ple with a truck bomb, got his train­ing in the mil­i­tary,” he added.

FBI Stats:
Skin­head groups and the extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tions Nation­al Alliance and the Nation­al Social­ist Move­ment account for 72 per­cent of the total num­ber of suc­cess­ful­ly recruit­ed vet­er­ans (or men who claim to be U.S. vet­er­ans.) “Accord­ing to sen­si­tive and reli­able source report­ing in Octo­ber 2006, the Nation­al Social­ist Move­ment received a num­ber of queries from active duty Army and Marine per­son­nel sta­tioned in Iraq and Afghanistan express­ing inter­est in join­ing the orga­ni­za­tion or inquir­ing about chap­ters locat­ed near domes­tic US mil­i­tary bases,” the FBI states. “Whether as a result of group recruit­ment efforts or self-recruit­ment by active mil­i­tary per­son­nel sym­pa­thet­ic to white suprema­cist extrem­ist caus­es, FBI infor­ma­tion derived from reli­able, mul­ti­ple sources doc­u­ments white suprema­cist extrem­ist activ­i­ty occur­ring at some mil­i­tary bases.”

The authors also state that suprema­cist lead­ers have encour­aged fol­low­ers who lack his­to­ries of neo-Nazi activ­i­ty to infil­trate the mil­i­tary as “ghost skins,” in order to recruit and receive train­ing for the ben­e­fit of the extrem­ist move­ment.


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